Get ready to savour the taste of New Zealand’s tantalizing wines across both islands
New Zealand is a true paradise for wine connoisseurs. The country’s Sauvignon Blanc, with its distinctive tropical fruit flavours and crisp acidity, has become an iconic style that has captivated wine enthusiasts globally. New Zealand also produces exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and aromatic white wines, showcasing the country’s diverse terroir and meticulous winemaking practices. If you seek to discover New Zealand wines in a unique way, then get ready to taste your way through the wine regions in New Zealand. Enjoy stunning scenery, beautiful forest parks, buzzing nightlife and indulgent food experiences as you journey from Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa in the North Island to Marlborough and Central Otago in the South Island and more.
Gravelly soils and a long growing season see Hawke’s Bay produce sophisticated red blends; rich merlot, spicy syrah and deep pinot noir. White wine is also produced in abundance with full-bodied chardonnay, oaky sauvignon blanc and aromatic pinot gris found at the many cellar doors. Hawke’s Bay is part of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. The vineyards of Hawke’s Bay are within easy reach – book a tour, or opt for a ‘cycle the vines’ experience. Grab a map of the nearby wineries from the i-SITE visitor centre, and be sure to eat lunch at one of the excellent winery eateries.
The picturesque town of Martinborough is the winery hub of the Wairarapa region, with inviting cellar doors and annual food & wine events. Martinborough features over 20 wineries, most within cycling and walking distance of the village square. Some of New Zealand’s best pinot noir comes from the town’s boutique vineyards, making Wairarapa a popular destination for wine lovers. In Carterton, one can find a large artistic community and nearby Stonehenge Aotearoa – a working replica of England’s famous henge. Greytown is a Victorian country village with a mix of boutique and antique stores.
Home to 90% of New Zealand’s sauvignon blanc plantings, the Marlborough region is known as the sauvignon blanc capital. One can take the Interislander or Bluebridge ferries from Wellington to Picton to reach Marlborough. It is one of the most picturesque ferry rides in the world that travels over Cook Strait and into the Marlborough Sounds. Take a short drive to Blenheim across the Wairau Plains past vineyards and wineries. Within a short distance from Blenheim are more than 20 wineries – one can choose from a wide variety of cafes, restaurants, stores, and golf courses in Blenheim itself. Another highlight of Blenheim is its variety of lodging, which ranges from homestays to boutique hotels. For seafood enthusiasts, nearby Havelock is famous for its Greenshell Mussels.
The lovely valley of Waipara is only 45 minutes north of Christchurch. The pinot noir and riesling grapes thrive in this area, one of New Zealand’s best wine areas. Visit one of the several tasting rooms and eateries in the vineyard. There are lavender fields, nut farms, and olive trees to enhance your culinary experience. Waipara is an excellent area to get some exercise, whether it is on the bike path that runs between the wineries or on one of the many lovely treks. Enjoy exploring Iron Ridge Quarry Park, a former quarry that has been transformed into a gallery with huge steel sculptures.
The gorgeous valley vineyards of Nelson Tasman, which benefit from a sunny, maritime climate, produce some of New Zealand’s freshest-scented sauvignon blanc and chardonnay as well as lively pinot noir. The first South Island commercial vineyard is located in Nelson Tasman, which is a smaller wine region but one that is extremely skilled in the art of producing wine. As the love of making delicious wines is passed down through the generations, you can still “meet the maker” in many of the cellar doors. The scenic Waimea Plains and the rolling Moutere Hills are where grapes are farmed, so you must go on a vineyard tour or cellar door experience while you’re there.
Hugged by mountains and interlaced with lakes and deep river gorges, the wineries in Central Otago and Lake Wānaka are truly spectacular. Here, the cool climate combined with glacially derived soils, means vineyards produce a highly elegant pinot noir and some quietly impressive white wine varietals and the occasional pink rosé. Wine production is spread across six sub-regions, which are the Cromwell Basin, Bendigo, Bannockburn, Gibbston, and Alexandra and Wānaka. The 4 Barrels Walking Wine Trail visits four of Central Otago’s premium wine-tasting rooms – take as long as you like on this self-guided walking tour. Otago Central Rail Trail is perfect for active relaxers and wine lovers. Over 15 wineries are found on the Clyde to Alexandra section of the cycle trail, which is also known as Pedal 4 Pinot.