We’re fast heading towards the end of the summer, and you may be planning your trip for next year. Or perhaps you need some ideas of how to integrate your love of wine into a holiday. Either way, New Zealand is the perfect destination for wine-lovers and offers many stops worth visiting as part of a road trip.
Driving may not be your thing, but that’s fine too as you can always pick up internal flights or public transport to visit wine destinations. Or just choose one and soak up the sun, wine and laid-back lifestyle. Here are a few places to visit in New Zealand that are perfect for anyone with an interest in wine.
South Island wine trail
The South Island is mountainous and home to beautifully dramatic scenery. It’s also relatively underpopulated and boasts the most famous wine regions in the country. These include Marlborough, Nelson, Central Otago, Waipara Valley and Waitaki Valley.
Ten days would give you ample time to discover many of the main wine destinations, although you may find it difficult to leave and want to stay longer!
Nelson is a wonderfully relaxing place to visit, and offers three national parks, two epic hikes and, of course, the wine region. It’s a real artists’ haven, and you’ll find endless galleries and opportunities to browse local products and art.
It’s also a prolific hops-growing region, so you’ll find craft brewing alongside the wineries. Local produce is bountiful, including kiwi fruit, nuts, cheese and berries, all of which make the weekly farmers market a must-visit.
Head to the village of Upper Moutere, where you’ll find wineries including Neudorf Vineyards, which is known for its incredible Chardonnay. Over on the Waimea Plains lies Greenhough Vineyards, which is an organic wine producer. Nelson’s oldest winery is Seifried, which is also handily accessible.
When you’ve had your fill of wine, there’s plenty to do, with beaches, shallow waters, mountain bike trails and endless countryside to explore.
Head east away from Nelson to the capital of Marlborough, Blenheim. The Marlborough Museum has an excellent summary of the history of the wine in the region, and you can visit Auntsfield Estate. This was the site of the very first vines planted in Marlborough by Scotsman David Herd back in 1873.
Granted, it took another hundred years for locals to take wine-making seriously, but David’s original winery is still there and can be visited. Blenheim railway station’s heritage building dates back to 1913 and now hosts The Wine Centre, a shop and tasting location offering around 80 different wines from the region.
There are more than 30 wineries in Marlborough, with some of the best-known including Cloudy Bay, Nautilus, Framingham and Fromm. Take a trip to Brancott Estate’s restaurant and cellar door which is located just above the first block of Sauvignon Blanc vines that were planted in the region. The wine is impressive, but so are the gorgeous views over the valley and far beyond.
Visit Waipara Valley
Head south on State Highway 1 in the direction of Christchurch, and less than an hour away you’ll find Waipara Valley. This is the centre of the North Canterbury wine region, and because it’s compact can be covered in a day.
There’s a cycle trail around the vineyards, or you can walk it. It connects some of the cellar doors in the region. Two of the best winery restaurants in New Zealand are in Waipara Valley – Pegasus Bay and Black Estate both won the prestigious winery restaurant of the year award.
Visit Waitaki Valley
Six hours of driving, or a short domestic flight, later and you will reach Queenstown. From there, travel towards North Otago and look for the Waitaki Valley, which offers lesser known wines.
In a tiny rural town called Kurow, a 1930s post office building now houses The Vintners Drop, where you can taste and buy Ostler Wine’s wares. Try Caroline’s Pinot Noir, for a pure and fragrant flavour.
This is only a taster of New Zealand’s wine offerings, but it’s a must for any serious wine lover looking for a holiday with a difference.