Canyon Brewing makes its mark in beer awards

New Zealand’s most scenic brewery made its mark on the beer scene with a haul of medals in the country’s most prestigious awards, less than 18 months after opening.

Canyon Brewing, which crafts its award-winning beer alongside the iconic Shotover River, was up against stiff competition in the Brewers Guild of New Zealand annual awards.

There were a record number of 955 entries across beer and cider categories for this year’s competition, just over half of them from small breweries like Canyon.

That didn’t stop the brewery from bringing home a silver medal for its Red IPA, and bronze accolades for its NZ Ale, Pale Ale, Haven XPA, and its Sour Cherry Ale in the fruit and flavoured category.

The awards, in their 13th year, have a huge reputation across the globe as one of the most prestigious accolades a brewer can win.

All Canyon’s beer is handcrafted on site in the ‘on-display’ microbrewery, which also serves up fresh, flavoursome food in its restaurant, open seven days a week.

Head brewer Jono Kauri and his team are delighted with the awards wins, which reflect the brewery’s mantra to deliver well-constructed, balanced and clean beers that while approachable, are also memorable.

“It’s about letting the raw materials and ingredients shine through into the finished beer,” says Product Development Manager Justin Koen.

“We pay close attention to detail throughout the brewing process, from paddock to pint, to ensure our brews are of outstanding quality, and the awards are testament to that.

“We’re thrilled to have shown that the beer we produce down here in Queenstown more than stacks up against many larger and more established breweries. It shows it shows the standard of success a small dedicated team can have.”

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Villas among the vines – luxury Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa opens in December

Villas among the vines – luxury Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa opens in December

Central Otago’s most exciting luxury offering is on final countdown to opening.

Located in the heart of Central Otago’s founding winery, Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa will offer the ultimate in relaxed luxury, fine wine, culinary excellence and 5-star personal service.

In just over two months, its doors will swing open to reveal a stunning architecturally-designed lodge complete with striking feature fireplace, soaring ceiling, sun-filled conservatory, al fresco dining area, an exclusive restaurant and a Lodge Cellar overflowing with historic vintages.

With a locally-sourced schist stone exterior mirroring the rugged Central Otago environment, Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa will be firmly planted in the vineyard’s rich history.

The world-class luxury accommodation experience is oozing with sophistication, sleek interior and exterior design, accompanied by lush landscaping and peaceful water features.

Twenty-four beautiful, sumptuously comfortable and modern villas are nestled just above the first vineyard block ever planted in the valley, in perfect view of the vines and distinctive Central Otago landscape on adjacent hills.

A secluded on-site spa will be a luxurious retreat for health, beauty and wellbeing, offering a serene, relaxing environment for a range of indulgences including – fittingly – vinotherapy treatments.

Gibbston Valley Winery CEO Greg Hunt says the Lodge & Spa gives guests the opportunity to connect with the land and the winery experience on another level.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have created a totally unique and completely enriching new experience for guests,” he says.

“It’s more than just unwinding among the vines – it’s about exploring the vineyard and gaining an intimate, deeper understanding of the behind-the-scenes workings of a world-class winery to a degree that’s not available anywhere else in the world.

“Going at their own relaxed pace, guests will be able to take the time to indulge in outstanding food and wine and really experience Gibbston Valley in all her glory.”

A highlight of the Lodge experience will be the opportunity to sample exquisite cuisine, carefully created to pair beautifully with premium, handcrafted Gibbston Valley Wines.

The exclusive Lodge menu is the brainchild of renowned Chef Anthony Gradiska, guided by the seasons and fresh produce grown in his Chef’s Gardens scattered around the Lodge and Spa buildings.

Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa is set to have a distinct sustainability focus, going to great efforts to do away with single-use products and introducing eco-conscious options throughout the entire operation.

The diversification of the vineyard has been an involved four-year planning project to ensure all elements of the Lodge & Spa meld seamlessly with the iconic look and feel of Gibbston Valley and the 30-year-old winery.

Additional Lodge features include a small wine education theatre, private meeting rooms, and unique indoor and outdoor spaces for intimate boutique weddings.

Each villa, boasting a modern, sophisticated décor, open plan indoor living space and the latest technology, also features a secluded sun-washed courtyard surrounded by lush landscaping and a private covered deck with dining area.

As a matter of course, a selection of premium Gibbston Valley Wines personalized to guests’ preferences greet visitors on arrival.

Customised concierge services round out the experience by providing the very best advice and local knowledge on wine tasting, cycle tours, walking tracks and packages for activities on-site and throughout the wider Central Otago region.

Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa is set on 1000-acres of privately-owned land, dotted with many kilometres of exclusive biking and walking trails. The Queenstown Trail, New Zealand’s most popular Great Ride, passes the property and provides access to over 130kms of off-road trails between Gibbston, Arrowtown and Queenstown.

Luxury experience packages available at Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa include the Wine Immersion, Food & Wine Indulgence, Relax & Revive, Romantic Escape and Ride the Vines.

Rates start at $825NZD per villa. For further information and bookings go to www.gibbstonvalleylodgeandspa.com

 Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa – what you need to know

  • Villas feature 100m2 of private, open plan indoor living space
  • Bathrooms feature a large walk-in shower, separate feature tub and dual basins
  • Complimentary bike use included for guests
  • Private wine tastings and intimate dinners available in the Lodge Cellar
  • Seasonal à la carte restaurant menu
  • Exciting range of wining, dining and leisure activities on the doorstep
  • Shuttles available for guests into Arrowtown and Queenstown
  • Spa features three private treatment rooms, a sauna, secluded hot pools and small gym
  • Just 20 minutes from Queenstown’s International Airport
  • Lodge & Spa designed by Queenstown architects Wyatt + Gray
  • Villa design by Space Studios
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Progressive Queenstown hotel drives social change

Queenstown’s newest hotel is driving social change for New Zealand’s hotel industry.

Opened nine months ago as the country’s first fully smart hotel, mi-pad Queenstown has been paying all its staff at least the living wage – rather than the minimum wage – since February this year.

The property’s 16 staff, from housekeepers to those working on reception and management, are paid a minimum of $20.55 an hour, well above the current minimum wage of $17.70 per hour.

Mi-pad Queenstown launched last year with a unique, intelligent mind-set at the very heart of its approach, mixing technology and sustainability to challenge conventional thinking.

Hotel manager Joshua Keeble says its commitment to responsible tourism through a number of ‘smart’ resources also extends to the overall welfare of its people.

“We all know that Queenstown’s not a cheap place to live so we’ve made a conscious decision to invest in our team,” he says.

“The upside of that is we’re able to recruit and retain amazing staff who receive lots of praise from guests for being friendly, efficient and helpful.

“In turn that means they’re really happy to work here and they’re not having to take on second jobs or work long hours just to make ends meet.”

Mi-pad Queenstown has embarked on the process of obtaining official accreditation from the Living Wage movement for its employment stance and hopes to see others in the industry follow suit.

“We’re committed to offering this rate to all new future staff recruits and we know this will help attract some of the best in our industry, so for us it’s win-win,” says Joshua.

The 57-room hotel in the heart of Queenstown is renowned as New Zealand’s first fully ‘smart’ hotel. It’s a next generation, energy-conscious hotel experience for the smart traveller, marrying technology, sustainability, comfort and convenience.

The key to the hotel is that there is no key. Once guests download the hotel’s personal app ‘mia’, their smartphone becomes a room key, the means of setting room temperatures and mood lighting in their room, calling for room service and even transforming into a digital concierge.

To unlock the key to the full mi-pad experience, book online at www.mipadhotels.com

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New Queenstown wine tour company will capitalise on booming industry

With local family and tourism connections dating back three generations, a Kiwi couple are looking to make their mark on the booming Queenstown wine tourism industry.

Husband-and-wife to be Emma Chisholm and Lee Saunders have launched Alpine Wine Tours, a new wine experience offering unique, personalised and ‘adult-only’ experiences for every wine-lover.

Central Otago’s wine tourism industry is heading into a boom period, following research by Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand winegrowers showing that around 25% of international tourists seek out a wine experience, (increasing to 42% for those who visit to cycle or play golf).

Wineries around the country are ramping up their tourism offerings as part of a strategy expected to see wine exports reach $2 billion annually by 2020, and Alpine Wine Tours says there’s never been a more exciting time to launch a new wine experience.

Alpine Wine Tours offers memorable group, private and custom wine and distillery tours from Queenstown, showcasing the unique wine and spirits of the region.

Co-owner Emma Chisholm is thrilled with how well received their new tours have been by locals and tourists.

“It’s been a huge success,” she says. “We saw a gap in the market for unique and personalised wine experiences in Queenstown and people’s initial reactions have been incredible.

“Our guests have nothing but positive things to say. We pride ourselves on providing good old-fashioned authentic Kiwi hospitality and I think that really resonates with people.

Emma and Lee are no strangers to the Queenstown tourism scene, as they also run successful tour company Alpine Adventures.

Emma is the third generation of the Chisholm family to work in Queenstown’s tourism industry. Her parents famed ‘flying pub crawl’ tour of the 1980s propelled her passion for creating some truly unforgettable adventures.

“It was called Henry’s Backcountry Flying Pub Crawl, and the name pretty much sums it up. It was fun, it was rowdy, and it was unique,” she says.

“Like Mum and Dad, we try to make every tour memorable. We’ve built great friendships with the winery owners and businesses we work with, and as a result, our guests leave Queenstown feeling like locals.”

Setting themselves apart from the rest, the local family-owned and operated business has created three adult-only group experiences, while those with children can enjoy a private tour.

Director and Tour Guide Lee Saunders said their adults only tours are already receiving rave reviews.

“People love it! There’s over 15 wine tour companies in Queenstown and almost all of them allow kids on their group tours,” he says.

“We wanted to give adults a chance to kick back and completely relax. We love kids, we have one of our own, but we all know that sometimes you just want a day to yourself.”

Alpine Wine Tours offers half and full-day tour options, taking visitors through the stunning Gibbston sub-region and into the beautiful Cardrona Valley in the comfort of their impressive fleet of luxury European vehicles.

Recognised with Tourism New Zealand’s Qualmark silver rating, the company prides itself on employing local and knowledgeable guides.

“All our guides are certified, passionate and just all-round fun,” says Lee. “We love to go the extra mile with the little touches like giving personalised water bottles and wine sleeves as gifts, to sharing our family history and local knowledge.

“Because we specialise in wine tours only our guides are super knowledgeable. They’re not your average sightseeing guide, they’re real wine experts.”

Alpine Wine Tours operates daily group, personal and customisable experiences from Queenstown. For more information see their website.

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