The Vineyard

Welcome to Waiau River Estate the home of Hells Gate Wines and High Country Honey. Our boutique vineyard 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. Sheryl Dennis along with son Conrad Adams run the vineyard, cellar door and restaurant. We also produce honey from our own hives that we sell through our cellar door.

We still plan to remain a small boutique, wine tourism venture, so have no immediate plans to increase in size. At present our grapes once picked are transported to Waipara and transformed into wine by the national andinternational award winning team at Bain Road Wines.

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

The Terrain

Waiau River Estate is one of 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

Why “HELLS GATE”? We are trying to keep alive some of this regions history, that could disappear overtime.

Our small family owned estate is situated on the banks of the Waiau River, with stunning views up the Waiau Gorge towards Hanmer Springs with the majestic vista of MAUKURATAWHAI which forms part of the southern alps.

In the Waiau River between our property and the Ferry Bridge is an area known as Hells Gate. Not too many years ago on the road trip to Hanmer Springs from the south you passed through a cutting on the river edge known as “HELLS GATE CORNER”. In about 2003-04 the road was re-aligned and that history is now slowly dying.

Eric Carter, bred/born/lived in Hanmer Springs for his 80++ years, tells me on the other side of the river to Hells Gate was the Devil’s Elbow. I can find reference on old maps at the NZ national library to Hells Gate but none for Devil’s Elbow, so this could have been a well-known local name many years ago that has been lost as the older generation dies out and that history disappears and leaves us wondering.

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” aka The Southern Alps of New Zealand, including the TEKOA, ORGAN, AMURI, HANMER, GLYNN WYE and LOWRY RANGES, which are 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, and both the St Helens and Woodbank, that no longer exist due to subdivision in the Hanmer Basin.