There are many incredible activities to try out in New Zealand but one of the most enjoyable and most refined has to be exploring the wine trails that are dotted around the North and South Islands.
Renowned for its syrah, pinot noir, merlot and sauvignon grapes, New Zealand is something of a hot-spot for the wine connoisseur. It’s also a great place for those who just like a chilled glass of cabernet sauvignon after a busy day touring the region.
There are three main wine producing areas in New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay, Wairapara and Marlborough. They account for about 80% of the wine production in New Zealand and house an astonishing 230 wineries and vineyards.
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail covers 380 kms from Hawke’s Bay in the North to Marlborough in the South. Fully signposted, if you choose to drive this tour they suggest you give yourself four to five days to complete it. But for those wishing to take it a little easier, there are many cycle tours offered around the vineyards.
Whatever your mode of transport, a trip to the vineyards will be an enjoyable way to sample one of New Zealand’s greatest exports.
Here’s our guide to what the different regions have to offer:
As a producer of classic reds such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah, Hawke’s Bay is a great place to sample some of the best wines New Zealand has to offer. In fact, visit the Mission Estate Winery and you’ll find yourself not only in the country’s oldest wineries but also in the birthplace of wine in New Zealand. If you fancy coupling your drinking with some exercise, take one of the many bike tours offered around the region. Coastal Wine Cycles take their clients on the bike pathways around the Tukituki River and the coastal wineries of Te Awanga. Not a bad way to spend a day.
Just north of New Zealand’s capital city Wellington, the Wairapara region is home to the vineyards of Martinborough. This is the spot to visit if you like pinot noir which is produced by some of the 20 wineries, most of which are family run. Make a visit to the Ata Rangi vineyard which is considered one of the best pinot noir producers in the country. If you choose to take the Martinborough Gourmet Wine Tour you can visit the vineyards, accompanied by an expert guide, who’ll talk about the wines and also take you to great places to eat. What’s not to like?
Marlborough is often called the sauvignon blanc capital of New Zealand. Unsurprising since it has 90% of the countries sauvignon blanc plantings as well as being home to 76% of its wine production. You’ll find over 150 wineries with many offering open doors and tasting sessions. Plenty of the wineries offer gourmet food too. Big favourites are lunch at Allan Scott Wines which has Marlborough seafood chowder and miso maple Marlborough salmon on the menu or Wairau River Wines for a WR burger served with a glass of reserve pinot noir.
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