Ever since New Zealand was acclaimed by international connoisseurs during the 1990s as being home to the world’s finest Sauvignon Blanc, wine enthusiasts have been flocking to this dual island down under.
While the country’s signature Sauvignon Blanc has been described by one critic as like ‘making love for the first time’, there are many other reasons to visit New Zealand – including a beautiful climate, welcoming people and an interesting Maori heritage. New Zealand also boasts arguably the most awe-inspiring natural landscapes anywhere in this world – or even so-called Middle Earth, the fantasy setting for the hugely successful Lord of the Rings films that used the country’s sprawling scenery as a backdrop.
Despite making less than 1% of the world’s entire wine production, New Zealand wine tours are among the most popular ways to explore this stunning country of serene valleys, crystal clear rivers and snow-capped mountains. Sauvignon Blanc remains the holy grail for visitors on most of the wine tours New Zealand has to offer, although the country also produces award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Bordeaux-style blends. There are over 700 wineries spread across the North and South Islands, with many catering for wine tours in New Zealand. Most of the country’s vineyards are located within 125km of the coast, with the majority of grapes grown on the east coast in the rain shadow of the mountains.
At Wine Paths, our local experts can organize exclusive NZ wine tours, including elaborate tastings, luxury accommodation, fine dining experiences and some unique activities – with itineraries that can be tailor-made to your exact specifications.
Following the classic NZ wine trail will take you to several regions – Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, Wairarapa and Wellington – which account for around 80% of the country’s production.
You will typically be given the opportunity to explore several vineyards accompanied by a professional guide before sampling numerous vintages, often accompanied by local cuisine.
In the North Island, Hawkes Bay is generally considered the go-to travel destination for New Zealand wine tours as it is home to many of the country’s finest wineries and an established route that also showcases the area’s art deco architecture and artisan producers. New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, also has its own wine tasting scene, although this is largely concentrated in the nearby Waiheke Island which can be reached in a 35-minute ferry ride. The island was ranked the fifth best destination in the world to visit by the Lonely Planet in 2016.
The wine region around the capital city of Wellington occupies the southern section of the North Island. The small sub-region of Wairarapa, which means ‘glistening waters in Maori’, is where a small cluster of boutique wineries are creating some exceptional Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc varieties. While most of New Zealand’s wineries are scattered across the North Island, its southern sibling can claim the largest and most renowned wine region in Marlborough. It’s this area that’s responsible for bringing Sauvignon Blanc to the world’s attention and still produces two-thirds of the country’s wine – making it a prime destination for New Zealand wine tours. Also to the south is Gisborne, which features a mix of large producers and boutique wineries – and is the first place in the country where you will see the sunrise. While, of all the New Zealand wine areas, Central Otago is arguably the most picturesque, with soaring mountains and clear rivers carving their way through ravines where Pinot Noir flourishes in the valleys.
If you are interested in New Zealand wine tours, contact us for more informational and inspirational ideas.