Gibbston River Trail
Hike through the valley of vines above the mighty Kawarau River and explore gourmet delights.
Distance: 8.7 km one way
Duration: 3 – 5 hours depending on detours and winery stops.
Best time of year to go: Good all year.
Location: Gibbston Valley
Start / finish point: The Kawarau Suspension Bridge car park to the Gibbston Back Road.
Insider’s tip: Make time to explore wineries and breweries along the trail. With seven wineries, Cargo Brewery at Waitiri Creek and the Gibbston Tavern, along with picnic hampers from Gibbston Valley Cheeses and gourmet cuisine from Gibbston Valley Winery restaurant, you’ll need to do the hike twice to do it all justice.
The Gibbston River Trail hiking experience
Start the Gibbston River Trail from the AJ Hackett bungy car park at Kawarau Bridge. Once you’ve had your fill of watching terrified humans plummet towards the river (or maybe even had a jump yourself) head east into wine country.
You’ll pass the architecturally awarded Peregrine Winery, with its winged roof inspired by the New Zealand falcon. The Peregrine Loop track takes you on a 2 km detour along the Kawarau Gorge, with exceptional views of the river, historic timber bridges, and traces of Central Otago’s goldmining heritage. This section of the track is a little steeper, but still an easy walk.
From the Peregrine Winery push on to Gibbston, where you have multiple food and wine options to choose from. A detour down Rafter’s Road leads to Rum Currie’s hut and its heritage orchard. This historical site is preserved by the Gibbston Community Association.
The trail ends at Gibbston Back Road, where you can visit Mt Rosa Winery or Brennan Wines, or follow Gibbston Back Road back west, climbing gradually and enjoying the views, until you meet Coal Pit Road, which leads you back down to the Gibbston Tavern, where a well deserved cold drink awaits. Book yourself a shuttle to pick you up and take you back to Queenstown.