Situated on the east side of the South Island, the Canterbury plains is the largest section of flat ground in New Zealand. These plains around Christchurch, the largest city on South Island, where first planted with vines in the late 1970s. However, there is another major wine area in Canterbury situated north of Christchurch, in the valley area of Waipara. This area was developed much more recently. The plains vineyards enjoy free-draining gravel soils, while soils in the warmer, sheltered Waipara valley area are typically rich in limestone. The most widely planted grape varieties in Canterbury include Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. While Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are still the most widely planted varieties, Canterbury Rieslings are beginning to gain substantial recognition on the global wine map, and the area is fast gaining a reputation for some truly excellent wines.