February 22, 2024

Wine growing in New Zealand is still evolving and new areas are planting vines and producing an ever broadening selection of wine varieties with often excellent results. Wine is now one of the New Zealand’s main exports.

Plan your New Zealand Wine Trail Holiday allowing time to spend a few days in several wine regions. Many wineries have their own restaurants and the gourmet food is usually excellent, as the menus are planned to compliment their wines. Some wineries have diversified growing olives and/or other gourmet food specialties. Each has their own architectural style and beautiful scenic surrounds.

Many wineries are in areas featuring beaches, bush or mountains, arts and crafts, historic townships and other attractions for you to enjoy.

If you are not keen to drink and drive – join an organised Wine Trail Day Tour in each location, for a comprehensive wine experience. Or drive yourself on mini tours… tasting the wines and gourmet foods many regions produce.

Vary it with a Winery Cycle Tour in Hawkes Bay or the Kayaking Wine Tour to Omata Estate in the Bay of Islands – and you have the makings of a wonderfully varied and exciting holiday.

I have found that many wine makers love to chat and share their vast knowledge of the wines they lovingly craft…for it is a craft. New Zealander’s are generally innovative and prepared to try new ideas. This shines through in some areas of their wine making too.

The areas listed could all be visited as part of a tour throughout New Zealand. Alternatively you could choose to just tour either the North Island or South Island sections. I have selected the main wine growing areas…….and a suggested route that takes you systematically through the country.

Kerikeri – Northland is not a major wine area but there are a few good wineries. Marsden Estate and Cottle Hill are two wineries well worth visiting in Kerikeri. Both also have good restaurants.

Auckland – Matakana – Waiheke Island -West Auckland- Clevedon – There are many areas around Auckland where wine growing is a feature.

  • Matakana is an hour north of the city and there are several good wineries here. Take a day or two and tour the area. With beautiful beaches, potteries, and Matakana township which has an excellent Farmers Market on a Saturday, there is plenty to fill your time in between wine tastings.
  • Waiheke Island has many excellent wineries with some acclaimed labels. Either do a Day Wine Tour or spend a few days on the island with a car. Some of the wineries are a little off the beaten track……with glorious views. You can pick up rental cars from the wharf or take your car across on the Sealink ferry.
  • West Auckland – is one of Auckland’s oldest wine growing regions with many well established vineyards planted by the many Croatian families that emigrated to the area. Transport is essential. Kumeu, Henderson and Oratia are home to some of New Zealand’s most well known labels. Artisan’s Winery – Oratia has a great restaurant and their wines are supurb.
  • South Auckland does not have such a wide choice of wineries but there are a handful around Clevedon. – I recommend Vin Alto as an interesting winery. You can have a wine tasting or enjoy a degustation meal with wine to match, which is a fabulous experience with much of the produce…… even the venison grown on the property. Their limoncello liquor is delicious!

Hawkes Bay – is one of New Zealand’s top wine growing regions with Chardonnay and Bordeaux style red wines their most widely produced. This area has wine, food, art trails and Art Deco Napier to keep any tourist happy for days! You will need transport to reach the many wineries which are spread out. For something different you can do a Bike Winery Tour. You will want to include some visits to the many gourmet food producers as you tour the region.

Gisborne – Known as the Chardonnay capital of New Zealand Gisborne has some excellent wines and wineries with the first grape vines planted as long ago as 1836.This is also an area producing internationally acclaimed gewertztraminer at Vinoptima.

Wairarapa – Martinborough – Best known for their excellent Pinot Noir, you could plan to stay a night or two and enjoy the gourmet food and wines in the region. Martinborough is a popular destination for a weekend break and wine tours being near to Wellington.

South Island

Marlborough – Nelson – Sauvignon Blanc is the trademark wine for this region and is considered by many internationally to be the best in the world – although their Pinot Noir is also becoming a flagship wine for the area. This region has much to keep you here for several days if you have time – with arts and crafts, hiking and kayaking the stunning Abel Tasman National Park, and beautiful beaches.

Canterbury – The oldest South Island wine area, Reisling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are some of the best wines in this region. Take a Wine Tour or drive yourself to Banks Peninsula or Waipara Valley. French Farm is a lovely winery for tasting and lunch.

Otago – This may be a relatively new wine growing area, and those who were the first to plant grapes here were told they were “mad”! However, they have had the last laugh as the wines in the region have won international acclaim. Pinot Noir and aromatic whites grow very well on the rocky hillsides. A wine tour will take you to several fascinating wineries from Waitiri Creek Winery based in an old Church to Gibbston Valley with it’s wine cave.

With Queenstown and Wanaka central to the area, you will enjoy stunning scenery and find a plethora of exciting activities and attractions when you tire of wine tasting. Enjoy your New Zealand Wine Trail Holiday!