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Where can I tour and taste wine in New Zealand?

Tourists on a New Zealand sightseeing holiday are spoiled for choice thanks to the wide range of unbelievable beautiful scenery here. Adventure enthusiasts also have numerous options, with high-thrill activities such as commercial bungy jumping invented right here.

But what about the wine connoisseurs among you – those with a vision for vino? According to NZ Wine, our local grapes are world renowned for their purity, intensity and vibrancy. The cooler temperatures here lead to a longer ripening time, which in turn allows flavour to develop without losing the freshness of acidity.

You’re in luck, as no vacation to this country is complete without a New Zealand wine region road trip. Here are some suggestions to kick you off.

North Island


What better place to start than the historical home of NZ wine? Northland’s website states that the very first grapes were planted in Kerikeri back in 1819. Though winemaking focus did eventually shift away from the area, since the 1960s this area has become the country’s fastest-growing wine region.

Northland has the highest temperatures in Aotearoa, meaning there is more heat available each season to ripen the grapes. Expect to find a mix of both fruity and spicy, with Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris all popular.

-Wineries to visit:

  • Shipwreck Bay Wines, Kaitaia
  • The Landing, Kerikeri
  • Lochiel Estate Vineyard and Winery, Mangawhai
  • Gisbourne/Hawkes Bay

Gisbourne and Hawkes Bay you can visit back-to-back, as they are right next door to each other on the east coast of the North Island. The latter area is actually NZ’s second-largest wine growing locality, with the former in third place.

There is a great mixture of both large-scale vineyards here and family-owned boutiques. Both present a quality of wine that rivals the best of the world, with red wine particularly excellent in the Hawkes Bay area according to NZ Wine, and Chardonnay dominating Gisbourne.

-Wineries to visit:

  • Hawkes Ridge Wine Estate, Maraekakaho
  • Craggy Range, Havelock North
  • Ashwood Estate, Gisbourne
  • Wrights Vineyard and Winery, Ormond Valley
  • South Island
  • Marlborough

South Island


The Marlborough district at the top of NZ’s South Island is by far the country’s largest wine growing region. In fact, NZ Wine states it accounts for about 77 per cent of the total wine tonnage in the country!

One of the main reasons this area is so popular is thanks to its climate. With a bountiful ocean to one side and steep, glamorous mountains to the other, Marlborough sits on a vast alluvial plain and among sweeping valleys. This graces it with low rain fall and cooler temperatures, though with plenty of sunshine. You can expect plenty of aromatic, sweet Sauvignon Blancs here, as this is the most popular varietal.

-Wineries to visit:

  • Cloudy Bay Vineyards, Blenheim
  • Totara Wines, Blenheim
  • Crighton Estate, Wairau Valley
  • Central Otago

Take a break from your Queenstown adventure holiday to explore the local wineries. From Queenstown through the Gibbston Valley and over to Wanaka, there is a wide and eclectic range of vino to sample from in Central Otago.

Indeed, this sunny, mountainous area is actually the southern-most wine region on the planet, first planted in 1864. It’s also NZ’s highest, with Wanaka and the surrounding areas sitting at around 300 metres above sea level (compared to, say, Blenheim and most other coastal regions, which are almost at 0 metres).

Lush Pinot Noirs are simply divine in Central Otago, and as its most-planted grape variety, is a must-try when you are passing through. Of course, there are other types available too, so make sure you shop around and taste whatever your heart fancies.

-Wineries to visit:

  • Wooing Tree Vineyard, Cromwell
  • Locharburn Estate, Luggate-Cromwell Highway
  • Gibbston Valley Winery, Gibbston Valley

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