Best New Zealand Wineries to Visit

Wine lover? Make sure you don't miss these Wine Tours in New Zealand 

New Zealand is known to offer some of the best wines to the world today. The sheer number of high-quality wineries and vineyards spread throughout the country stand testimony to that. The most distinctive feature of a New Zealand wine is its balance, something that the wines are most famous for. Pure, vibrant and intense, this is a result of the cooler temperatures that encourage a longer ripening period.

If you are a wine connoisseur and have been thinking about a holiday to New Zealand, you’re on the right track. You can turn this wine tasting sojourn into a splendid vacation since most vineyards in New Zealand are in stunning locations, either near a gorgeous shore or perched high up in alpine peaks.

There are wineries all across New Zealand, from its Northern islands to its Southern ones. New Zealand’s viticulture and winemaking began in Northland, where the vine plantation was set up nearly 200 years ago. Over time, this has simply been perfected and the whole country today offers some of its best wines to the world.

Most wineries are within driving distances from the state highways, and even the smallest ones are highly reputed, with wine connoisseurs traveling from far just to sample some of the distinctive flavours of New Zealand.

Shall we begin the tour?

If this has whetted your appetite for more, we strongly recommend that you drink your way through three significant wine regions on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. This will turn your wining holiday into something far more spectacular. You can expect stunning scenery for company all along the way as you move from vineyard to vineyard, from Hawke's Bay in the North Island to Marlborough in the South Island - with halts at Wairarapa and Wellington along the way. Add to that a happening nightlife and delicious food to boot, and your wine journey is complete.

Are you ready to join us on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail?


1: Napier and Hastings

Vineyard

This day is only about wineries, wildlife and Art Deco designs.

Highlights:

  • Head off on some brilliant Hawke's Bay cycle trails
  • Spend time browsing through spectacular designs in the Art Deco capital of the world
  • Tee off at the Cape Kidnapper's Golf Course

All the vineyards in Hawke’s Bay are in close proximity to each other. You can drive around in your car, opt for a guided tour or cycle around to get the proper experience. Pick up a winery map from the local i-SITE Visitor Information Centre and make your way through them all, one glass at a time. There are several fine winery restaurants where you can enjoy a sumptuous lunch. Many of them specialise in international cuisine and you shouldn’t be too surprised to eat some fabulous Indian food too.

What else besides wining? Napier and Hastings are both home to some of the finest Art Deco architecture in the world. Then there is the Earthquake Exhibition and Nga Tukemata, an exhibition to commemorate Māori history on the East Coast, at the museum. Fancy a round of golf? Head over to the golf course at Cape Kidnappers.

Getting There:

  • If you’re driving, you’ll take approx. 25 min to from SH1.
  • You’ll take 20 min if you travel by the Intercity.
  • Should you choose the Hawkes Bay Cycle Trail, you’ll reach in 1h 15min 


2: Napier to Martinborough

Nothing beats the joy of sipping a glass of wine while overlooking a beautiful coastline.

Highlights:

  • Spend a leisurely day at several boutique wineries
  • Browse to your heart’s content at the many antique and craft stores
  • Take some time off to visit the Wool Shed Museum

You can spend several delicious hours at Martinborough, hopping across the over 20 wineries that the place is home to. Most are within cycling and walking distance from the village square, so getting around is a breeze. Some of New Zealand’s best pinot noir originates from the town’s boutique vineyards; no wonder it’s so popular among wine lovers.

Make your time here more exciting by heading to the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. This is the only place in the world with a white kiwi in captivity. Plus, there is lots of other native New Zealand wildlife to view as well.

Wairarapa is a fascinating mix of other interesting towns as well. Carterton is home to Stonehenge Aotearoa, a working replica of the famous Stonehenge in England. Greytown is a quaint Victorian village that is a delight to those interested in antique stores. 

Getting There

  • Martinborough is 250 kms from SH2 and you will take about 3h 10min to reach by car.
  • The journey is longer by the Intercity, clocking 5h to Featherston.


3: Martinborough to Wellington

Get ready for history, culture, nature and cuisine.

Highlights:

  • Delight your taste buds at the numerous cafes, bars and restaurants
  • Don’t forget to visit the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa
  • Drive along the Rimutaka Ranges for fabulous views of the valley

Wellington is a city that you discover on foot. It is compact and full of character. You will find yourself spoiled for choice with the sheer number of cafes, bars and restaurants the place boasts of. A few of them even specialise in international cuisine, and you will certainly find a New Zealand take on classic Indian dishes. Pair off the meal with delicious wine that is now a given at every meal on your New Zealand vacation.

Wellington has a strong culture circuit and you can immerse yourself in the museums, as well as the various dance, theatre and musical performances here.

On your way to Wellington don’t forget to make a halt at Featherston, home to the world’s only remaining Fell Engine. Also swing by C’est Cheese, an artisan cheese shop that is bursting with cheese from all over New Zealand – an absolute delight for those who love their cheese.

Getting There:

  • You can drive down from SH2 as well as SH53, both of which will bring you to Wellington in 1h 10min
  • The Metlink will take about the same time 
  • Those looking for adventure can cycle down the Rimutaka Cycle Trail, which should take 6h 10min

4: Wellington to Picton

Your fourth day will bring you to a land of valleys and sheltered waterways.

Highlights:

  • Enjoy the serene waters of Marlborough Sounds and soak in the surrounding scenery
  • Sail back into time on the Floating Maritime Museum
  • Dig into delicious seafood, fresh from the harbour

Take the ferry across Cook Strait, through the Marlborough Sounds, and tell us if you’ve ever enjoyed such a scenic boat ride. You get three hours to soak in the surrounding landscape that just gets better with each passing minute. The luxurious cruise-style ferry links New Zealand's North and South islands, and takes you past natural attractions such as the Red Rocks Seal Colony, Cook’s Lookout, Tory Channel and the beautiful coves of the Sounds.

Once on land, you can enjoy all that the quaint seaside town of Picton has to offer. From here, you can head over to the marine, forest and island sights of the Marlborough Sounds. Put aside some time for the museums and stroll the streets to see the culture from up close. The famous Queen Charlotte Track is quite worth your time too, whether you wish to walk or cycle.

Getting There:

  • The ferry to Picton via Cook Strait ferry by Interislander or Bluebridge will take 3h 30min

5: Picton to Blenheim

Take in the scenic sounds and native wildlife, and enjoy some brilliant cycling and walking tracks

Highlights:

  • Wind up your wine trail with amazing winery tours
  • Leave the world behind on these walking and cycling trails
  • Pamper yourself on luxurious boat cruises

There are more than 20 wineries for you to stop and select on your short drive to Blenheim. As you drive past the Wairau Plains, you will spot vineyards and wineries on both sides. Plan beforehand or simply allow your senses to guide you. Don’t forget to try the Marlborough region's famous Sauvignon Blanc.

In between journeying further on your wine appreciation, you can take a break and slip away to a café or restaurant for a delicious meal. Seafood lovers can travel a little further to Havelock, quite famous for its Greenshell Mussels. Then there are shops and stores where you can pick up souvenirs or gifts for people back home. And if you wish to test your handicap, simply head over to any of the numerous golf courses where you can tee off.

Staying at Blenheim is an absolute delight. Depending on your budget and preference, you can choose from a comfortable homestay to even stunning boutique hotels.

Getting There:

  • You are about 24 min away from SH1 when you drive down
  • The intercity will get you there in about 30 min

Wine discovery in New Zealand is a fantastic way to see the country and also treat yourself to delectable tastes and flavours. At Thomas Cook, allow us to plan a memorable vacation for you and your loved ones. With us, you can enjoy it all – the countryside, the world’s best wines and vivid experiences.

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