The Vineyard

Welcome to Waiau River Estate, the home of Hells Gate Wines and High Country Honey. Our boutique vineyard and artisan apiary is positioned on the banks of the Waiau River 13km south of Hanmer Springs and has been producing award-winning wines since 2008.

In 2004 we planted grape varietals of Pinot Noir (2 hectares), Chardonnay (1 hectare), Riesling (1 hectare) and Sauvignon Blanc (1.2 hectare).

Waiau River Estate is a small family owned and operated vineyard. Conrad Adams and his partner Samantha Ford run the vineyard, cellar door and restaurant.

We also produce raw honey from our own hives that we sell through our cellar door. We have a small commercial number of beehives, with our main focus being on high quality, totally traceable, all natural raw honey. 

We plan to remain a small boutique family business, with no plans to increase in size. At present our grapes once picked are transported to Waipara and transformed into wine by the national and international award winning team at Waipara Downs.

We do all our own viticultural work, with a little help during the pruning season. Where possible we practice both organic and sustainable farming methods in the vineyard.

The Terrain

Waiau River Estate is among New Zealand’s highest altitude vineyards at 297m above sea level, in a unique environment surrounded by high country farms and snow-capped mountains. Waiau River Estate is the first vineyard planted in this exciting new wine region, with our grapes grown on old alluvial terraces of the Waiau River.

Our History

Our small family owned estate is situated on the banks of the Waiau River, with stunning views up the Waiau Gorge towards Hanmer Springs, including a majestic vista of Maukuratawhai which forms part of the Southern Alps.

Why "Hells Gate Wines”? In the Waiau River, between our property and the Ferry Bridge, is an area known as Hells Gate. Not too many years ago, before a major re-alignment, the road to Hanmer Springs from Waiau River Estate passed through a cutting on the river edge known as "Hells Gate Corner". 

Why "High Country Honey”? Our bee hives are nestled in and around mature stands of native forest that still exists in our area. We are also about as high country as you can get without being in the mountain tops.

We are surrounded by the lower mountain ranges that make up Ka Tiritiri O Te Moana, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, including the Tekoa, Organ, Amuri, Hanmer, Glynn Wye and Lowry Ranges.

This area is also famous for some of New Zealand’s best known high country stations, including: Molesworth, St James, Glynn Wye, Leslie Hills, Montrose, Lochiel, Medway, Glenhope, The Poplars, Hossack and Marble Point. The once mighty St Helens and Woodbank stations no longer exist. however, due to subdivisions in the Hanmer Basin.