30 January 2024

My First Winery Tour in New Zealand: Neve's Story | Study With New Zealand

Neve Oettinger
Sociology student from Minnesota, USA

Hi everyone! My name is Neve Oettinger, and I am from Minnesota, USA. I came to New Zealand to study Sociology last year and loved it so much I decided to transfer to a full degree. Since New Zealand is far away from my home, my dad planned a trip to visit me so he could experience all the reasons why I love the lifestyle here.

When planning the trip for my dad and I, I knew I wanted to take him to Queenstown so we could take part in a wine tour. My dad is a huge fan of wine and has even gone to Napa Valley to sample all different types. I, on the other hand, am not a wine connoisseur and actually try to avoid drinking it.

DISCLAIMER: The age to legally drink any alcohol in New Zealand is 18. For more information around drinking alcohol in New Zealand, click here.

Even though I knew I didn’t like wine, I still wanted the experience with my dad doing something he loves, and it turned out better than I could have imagined. We booked our experience with Appellation Wine Tours which included transportation, three winery tours, over 15 wine tastings, and a cheese board.

Our first stop was at Stoneridge Estate which was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. There were multiple stone buildings that were cottage-like. The venue also hosts weddings, creates incredible meals, and provides accommodation. The wine was amazing, and I realized I might have just picked the wrong wine in the past.

The next winery we visited was Gibbston Valley, and it was definitely the biggest out of all of them. At this place, we got to see the wine cave which I learned is set to the perfect temperature, so the wine does not disintegrate. It was actually created by a man who lit dynamite against rocks to make space for his wine cellar. I had never seen anything like it!

At this location we tried three different wines and two different cheeses. I tried smoked cheddar for the first time, and it was delicious.

The final winery location was Mt. Rosa. It was a stunning building that almost looked like a modern barn. At this location we tried seven different types of wines, and I learned I prefer white wine over red wine.

At every location, the tastings were completely optional which was nice for me since I don’t usually like wine. If I tried a sip and didn’t like it, I just passed it over to my dad! At Mt. Rosa we also got a board with all different types of cheese, crackers, and fruit.

My dad and I also made friends with a woman named Komal who is a lawyer in the United States. She gave me her contact information since I want to be a lawyer and we’ve messaged back and forth ever since! She has helped answer my questions about the LSAT exam, different law schools, and different types of lawyers.

I’m so glad I experienced a wine tour with my dad even though I don’t necessarily like wine! The experience was amazing, and we saw so many beautiful places along the way.

I’m so grateful that studying Sociology at the University of Otago gave me the opportunity to try a wine tour in New Zealand! I’ve had the BEST experience studying abroad at Otago and wouldn’t change one thing. I’ve met amazing friends and faculty and can’t wait for my final semester of studies!

Studying at Otago has given me access to so many adventures along with the wine tour. I’ve travelled all over New Zealand because it’s so easy to get around. I highly recommend studying at Otago and experiencing all the things that make New Zealand so great!

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About the contributors
Neve Oettinger
Sociology student from Minnesota, USA