When Mt Rosa enquired to become an Official Trail Partner, I was delighted! I’ve long been a fan of their Rosé, and Sangria and Mulled Wine syrups, and I had yet to experience their new Cellar Door. This sounded like the perfect excuse to ride the Gibbston River Wine Trail followed by lunch at Mt Rosa. I enlisted a friend to join me, and the friendly team at Better by Bike kitted me out with an e-bike and away we went!
We were glad to depart mid-morning, as the day turned into one of our stunning Central Otago days - think baking sun without a cloud in the sky! Leaving from Arrowtown we cruised along the Arrow River, crossing the first bridge by Tobin’s Track and then further down the Swain Bridge where we stopped for the obligatory photo opp.
The Swain Bridge over the Arrow River
Next was the Southern Discoveries swing bridge, another great photo stop. The trail to this point is so lovely, lots of dappled shade and a bit undulating, but nothing challenging. We encountered plenty of friendly faces along the track as others were out taking advantage of the weather, as well - walkers, bikers, and some canine friends too! After the Southern Discoveries bridge, the trail joins a quiet country lane, where you must have a look for the curious alpacas in the paddock near the river! They’ve got some serious fringe game and will usually come trotting up to check you out.
More friends of the trail
A little further on the trail passes under the highway with the Knight’s Family underbridge. Having walked many ‘sections’ of this trail in the past, this is the one bridge I’d never experienced, and it was so neat. This was also the fourth time we crossed the river and listening to the heavy traffic above as we crossed via the underbridge, I was very thankful for this safe passage away from the highway.
The Knights Family underbridge
From here the track becomes more open, and we were glad for the sunscreen and layers, to protect our arms and necks from the beaming sun. We again travelled down a quiet country lane, before re-joining the track through some active farmland. There were rabbits galore and we spotted a few deer snoozing in the shade before we reached the magnificent Edgar Bridge. This bridge spans 80 meters across the deep river gorge and has awe-inspiring views of the surrounding countryside. We stopped again for some more photos and admired the tree lined river snaking its way through the valley below. We also took a moment to pay homage to all the people named on the Wall of Recognition, without whom we wouldn’t be able to enjoy this fabulous network of trails.
High above the Arrow River on the Edgar Bridge
Next up the track dipped under the highway again through the Barfoot tunnel, and a bit of turbo was needed to get up the hill on the other side. Soon, we were at the historic Kawarau Suspension Bridge where a few brave souls were preparing to throw themselves off the bridge with the team at AJ Hackett Bungy. By now we’ve stopped following the thin ribbon that is the Arrow River and are above the wide Kawarau River. I always marvel at the stunning aquamarine colour of this river, and contrasted against the mountains and shining blue sky, it really is a magnificent view everywhere you look.
The mighty Kawarau River
After leaving the bungy jumpers, the trail meanders high above the river through vineyards and more rural landscapes, eventually meeting the highway where the trail stays safely off road. There are multiple places along the route for lunch or a wine tasting, but our destination was right at the end of the trail – Mt Rosa’s new cellar door, just a couple hundred metres off the highway on the Gibbston Back Rd.
We arrived at Mt Rosa around 1pm and were delighted to grab a table on the patio overlooking a lovely expanse of grass and the vines beyond. We were amused to see two horses tied up near the vines, it seems some Gibbston locals had chosen a different ‘ride’ to the cellar door!
A different 'ride' to the vineyard
We opted for the wine tasting and settled in to relax and take in the view. Guy was a lovely host, presenting and explaining the wines as he poured, and Ann joined us for a spell, giving us a bit of the story behind Mt Rosa – how they made the move from sheep to vines over 20 years ago. And aren’t we glad they did!
The food menu was simple, but delicious and our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs! We ordered the salmon platter, the roasted cauliflower bites, and the polenta fries. Everything was delicious and a perfect finish to our ride.
Our delicious Salmon Platter
The new site is wonderfully located, just off the main highway, with plenty of parking if you choose to drive out. There were newly installed bike racks in one corner of the car park that were visible from the patio and they have more to be installed soon. Whilst we sat outside, the interior was equally inviting with warm wood walls and a large fireplace that I’m sure would be exceptionally cosy on a cooler day.
A warm, inviting interior
We could have sat there all afternoon sharing a bottle of Rosé and just enjoying the peaceful surroundings, but alas, we both had to get back to reality. Though the ride itself was not overly difficult, the thought of another 22kms on the bike … in the hot afternoon sun … after a wine … and with full bellies, proved a bit daunting, so we were deeply grateful for our friends at Better By Bike, who kindly agreed to come collect us and drive us back to Arrowtown.
Mt Rosa's new cellar door
What a great day out, and a ride I would highly recommend. The trail provided a lovely variety of scenery, from the tree lined river paths to the open trail through the farmlands and vineyards, and across all the amazing bridges. So many photo opportunities with postcard worthy views around every bend!
Top tips for this trail:
- Slip, slop, wrap! Half of this trail offers little shade, and in early January we really could feel the sun beating down on us.
- Pack plenty of water, for the above reasons and that there are long stretches between available water refill spots.
- Organise transport back to the start of the trail! This will allow you to take your time for endless photo stops and you can truly relax when you arrive at Mt Rosa.