If you're a fan of wine, railways, and quirky accommodation, Waipara Sleepers has to be on your list.
Less than an hour from Christchurch, and supposedly the fastest growing wine region in New Zealand, I truly believe Waipara is one of Canterbury's best kept secrets. Tumbling hills surround the Waipara Valley, which is home to over 75 vineyards and at least 15 cellar doors (at the time of writing) - from the established, world-renowned Pegasus Bay, to smaller gems like Torlesse Wines and The Boneyard.
We've visited the Waipara region twice, and stayed at the Sleepers on both occasions. We were so taken with the site's rustic, welcoming charm that booking a second visit was a no-brainer.
There are accommodation options to suit everyone, from private cabins to caravan spots and camp sites. The main attractions, though, are undoubtedly the converted 1940s railway wagons that give Waipara Sleepers its name. You can't miss them; bright red, right at the centre of the site, and opposite an old station building - now a communal kitchen and dining room.
If you're looking to book one of the carriages, you'll be able to choose from one of the 4-bunk wagons, a double-bed wagon and a twin wagon (featuring one single and one double bed). All come complete with their own sitting rooms, plenty of blankets and built-in heating - which is definitely more effective in the twin and double wagons, as we discovered when it started to snow! If visiting one of the 4-bunkers over winter, I'd highly recommend bringing a hot water bottle.
Staying in the Sleepers feels a little like glamping, with a twist. Facilities are everything you'd expect from a well-kept campsite; clean, comfortable, functional. What we love about the Sleepers is the novelty of the site, the proximity to the vineyards and the friendly feel. It would be a perfect spot for families, groups of friends, or a romantic weekend away for couples who like to do things a little bit different.