New Zealand’s diverse landscapes draw thousands of visitors each year. Thrill-seekers flock to the islands to satisfy their cravings for an adrenaline rush, while nature-lovers tramp through beaches, glaciers and national parks for a chance to witness New Zealand’s unblemished beauty. More than that, however, the array of climate and geological formations in New Zealand has allowed a multitude of vineyards to flourish. With 10 regions across the country fermenting their own specialties, New Zealand is fast gaining a reputation for its quality produce. Whether you are a long-time connoisseur or simply a lover of a good glass of wine, here are five tours to help you discover the region’s best vintages:
Located at the top of the South Island, Marlborough is the largest and perhaps best-known wine region in New Zealand. Blessed with plenty of sunshine and fertile soil, the area is a winemaker’s heaven. More than 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of vines are strewn across the land, producing more than two-thirds of the total national crop.
One of the best ways to marvel at the richness of Marlborough is on a bicycle, as you cycle over the gentle terrain at a leisurely pace. The tour stops at six wineries for participants to get a taste of the region’s finest produce, including the dynamic Sauvignon Blanc that first put New Zealand on the wine map in the 1980s. A knowledgeable guide will share with you the history and process of winemaking in Marlborough along the way.
Additionally, you can look forward to a delectable lunch, served at a local restaurant. To ensure each participant receives sufficient attention, the tour is capped at four people. Do reserve early to avoid disappointment!
Deluxe full day Marlborough wine region guided bike and wine tour
Central Otago is a land-locked area on the South Island. While it is not the biggest wine-producing region in New Zealand, it is considered one of the most stunning because of its vast, rolling landscapes. The vineyards here are surrounded by soaring mountains, veined with crystal clear waters and fathomless gorges to create a magnificent backdrop.
On this intimate tour, you will visit wineries spread across two sub-regions. The first is Gibbston, where instead of being deterred by the harsher climate, winemakers capitalized on the colder environment here to produce a lighter, more elegant variant of wine. The second sub-region, Bannockburn, rests on Kawarau River’s southern bank.
Vines here ripen much faster than those in the other areas due to the drier climate. As such, you will be able to sample the more complex counterpart to Gibbston’s outputs. As everyone knows, the feasting is incomplete if the wine is not paired with a platter of smoky cheese. Opt for the longer gourmet wine tour if you can, which includes a cheese tasting and an indulgent lunch on one of the scenic vineyards.
Central Otago wine tours from Queenstown
Waiheke is a gorgeous island on the North that evokes a sense of bliss the moment you step off the ferry. The marine micro climate here has encouraged a good number of boutique wineries to grow their crops. Visitors will find vineyards scattered across the island, from the cool, shaded valleys to the sun-drenched hills, producing varieties such as Cabernet, Chardonnay, and the unique Pinot Gris.
Aside from sampling the deep flavors of the region’s wines, the tour guide will also bring you closer to the unparalleled vistas of Waiheke. There, you will understand the significance of Maori culture on the island’s history, such as how it was originally named Te Motu-arai-roa – ‘the long sheltering island.’ The Maoris knew early on the value of Waiheke, with its vantage point and bountiful natural resources. Today, you can see, smell, and taste the island’s legacy of abundance.
Maori walking tour with wine tasting on Waiheke Island
Just 30 minutes away from New Zealand’s largest city, the clay-rich soil of West Auckland is grounds to two of the most established wine districts: Henderson Valley and Kumeu Valley. These valleys reflect the diversity of New Zealand’s demographic. They have been cultivated lovingly by Lebanese, Croatian, and English wine producers for more than a century and their vines continue to turn out refined Chardonnays and full-bodied Merlot among other varieties.
To give participants a true sense of Auckland’s wonder, the tour includes a track to the roaring waterfalls hidden within the Waitakere Ranges. At the visitor center, you will also be treated to a panoramic view of the Karekare Rainforest’s dense canopy. Another stop to look forward to on the tour is Piha Beach, a striking black sand beach where the crashing waves are every surfer’s paradise. Pairing world-class wines with arresting views, this tour is sure to create some unforgettable memories.
Piha and Karekare Rainforest wine tour from Auckland
Another area on the North Island that wine lovers must explore is Hawke’s Bay, located by the Art Deco city of Napier. Hawke’s Bay is proudly known as wine country for good reason. As the second largest wine producing region in New Zealand, the area is warm and sun-soaked for most of the year, favoring the growth of dark grapes simply bursting with flavor. Some of New Zealand’s most premium red blends, including Bordeaux and Merlot, can be sourced from this region.
This 4.5-hour wine tour is a winner firstly because of the knowledge of the guide, who himself is an accomplished winemaker. Secondly, the quality of wines served on the trail is remarkable. This is an unsurprising fact considering one of the stops is in the cellar of Mission Estate Winery, New Zealand’s oldest winery with more than a 150-year history. To end the tour on a high note, the small group will have a chance to see a sweeping panorama of Hawke’s Bay from a viewing platform, while tucking into a cheese and wine platter courtesy of the guide.
Napier afternoon wine tour
Tasting the length of New Zealand
Vineyards in New Zealand are plentiful, beautiful, and more than anything else, delightful. Be it the commercialized production houses or the more bucolic wineries, the bold flavors that rise sharply in your mouth or the lighter notes that tiptoe on your taste buds, there is a flavor and a view to suit every palate. On any of these tours, you can be sure of a solid introduction to New Zealand’s varied wine regions.
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