The Gentle Cycling Company

Dunbar Estates


Hodgson meets a couple who have turned a run down farm into a winery, café and tasting room, popular with cyclists, located in rural Ngatimoti. Dunbar Estates is located on the opposite side of the Motueka River to the cycling route.

The majority of this region’s wine growing happens on the Waimea Plains, in the Moutere Hills or in the Tasman area, but tucked away in the Motueka Valley at Ngatimoti in a delightful setting is Dunbar Estates.

As well as a vineyard the property includes a cellar door and café; when I visited them recently I loved the environment the new owners have achieved in a very short time.

John and Jennifer Dunbar purchased the property, formerly Rabbit Hill, on the 19th October 2017 and opened for business on the 21st December. It all happened so quickly they haven’t even been able to get promotional material ready, “we just put the sign up, opened the gate and people came in” says Jennifer.

While the couple haven’t owned a business like this before it is obvious they are incredibly hard working people and they do own a small vineyard in Central Otago so growing grapes isn’t new to them, making wine and selling it is.

“We have been growing grapes for a while and thought it would be nice to have our own wines, just small volumes. We love the setting by the Motueka River and want to create a place where we can enjoy coming as well as being a business.”

“We are very fortunate to have what we have here and the café offers us the opportunity to share that with others.

“My job is about helping people make the most of their lives and we love to pass on the enjoyment we get from this place to anybody who comes by, there is no point in having nice things and keeping them to yourself.”

Jennifer told me that being on the Great Taste Cycle Trail is a bonus “on the first day we just opened the door without any advertising or promotion and 18 cyclists came in so we are about to install some bike stands and will probably set up a charging station for electric bikes.

“John is a keen cyclist so while we think we understand what tourists need, we will find out what people really want and then try and meet the market a bit.

Thanks to Neil Hodgson for permission to use this article, first published 20/1/18