This land of contrasts takes you from dramatic mountains to glacial fjords, mammoth national parks to swanky restaurants and cosmopolitan cities. Whether you’re here to explore the wilderness, the incredible Maori culture, or the great food and wine, everything about your trip will be absolutely unforgettable.
Like passing through the set of a movie, New Zealand’s landscape is unbelievably beautiful. Nature lovers and luxury seekers alike will be mesmerized by the views on their doorstep. Get a room with a view and order a fine bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, and you’ll never want to leave. This is luxury at its best. But there are adrenaline activities too for those who like to be more active. From world-class surfing and beaches to skiing or sky diving, every day is set to be epic.
Your journey can be relaxed or action packed. Whatever you indulge yourself in, finish your day with an immersive experience of New Zealand’s incredible gastronomy or a mouth-watering food and wine tour. Whether you want fine dining or cafes that are off the beaten track, you’ll be amazed by the culinary scene here.
New Zealand is divided by the North Island and South Island. Many travelers consider South Island, the larger of the two, to be more beautiful. But there’s certainly a lot going on in the North in terms of culture, food and wine. North Island is also home to a gorgeous coastline and geothermal hotspots, as well as the country’s stylish capital city. The capital, Wellington, has more places to eat per capita than New York City, and over to Hawkes Bay in the east you’ll find New Zealand’s oldest growing wine region.
Known as the ‘Island of Wine’, Waiheke Island is located just off the North Island by Auckland, and you can enjoy everything from wine tours and fine dining to diving and snorkeling or hiking trails.
South Island is the land of mountains and fjords. This is where you’ll find the Southern Alps, large glaciers, and the country’s highest peak, Mount Cook. The Canterbury region attracts discerning foodies from across the globe, and Christchurch (its largest city) is famed for having a thriving art scene. On the Central Otago Wine Trail, there’s everything from scenic lakes and fishing trips to luxury ski resorts. While Marlborough, home of world-class Sauvignon Blanc, is the place to go for its spectacular waterways, coastal forests and stunning coves.
In the far north of North Island, there’s a subtropical climate, while the inland alpines of South Island can be as cold as -10⁰C. So travelers may experience some extremes in temperature depending when they visit and where they go.
The New Zealand summer is generally warm and bustling, and lasts from December to February. This is the time when outdoor fans fall in love with the incredible scenery in both North and South Island. If you love hiking, springtime (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are fantastic for mild weather. In winter (June to August), the mountain ranges look especially beautiful covered in snow, and skiing season opens.
For wine travel, the month of March promises an abundance of lush grapes, but for the Queenstown / Central Otago region this is also the wettest time of the year.
When it comes to wine, Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blanc is the most celebrated variety. The endless hectares of vineyards make Marlborough the largest wine growing region in New Zealand, producing 77% of the wine in the country. The estates range from well-known brands to boutique artisan creators, with some famous names being Oyster Bay and Brancott Estate.
You can also book a tour of the Central Otago Wine Trail, best known for its pinot noir and refined rosé versions made from the same grape. Due to the region’s cooler climate, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay plantings are on the rise too. Canterbury wine tours are also becoming increasingly popular on South Island, with exclusive estates specializing in cold climate wines as seen in Central Otago.
Over to North Island, Hawke’s Bay boasts the second largest wine region in the country – and also the oldest, dating back to 1851. This area offers some of the most exclusive tours and luxury enotourism experiences. In the summer, visitors can embark on a winery bike tour while tasting varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Also in the North is Waiheke Island, home to 20 high class wineries and an amazing food scene to go with it. Tantalize your taste buds with award-winning Bordeaux-style reds, the island’s signature – or try Waiheke Chardonnay, defined by its impressive fruit concentration and generous mouthfeel.
From luxury lodges by the coast to quaint farm accommodation enveloped by nature, mind-blowing scenery comes as standard with our featured stays in New Zealand. From North to South Island, there are some seriously sumptuous places to stay, and you’re always guaranteed a room with a view.
Enjoy a feeling of luxury that’s off the beaten path, with activities such as hiking, sailing, watersports and wine tours in the local area. We even feature some stylish treehouses in Kaikoura that have been lavishly designed inside, with large spa baths and hand-crafted furniture.
This island nation has a primarily agricultural economy, so local cuisine is characterized by the freshest ingredients from land to sea. Generally speaking, New Zealand cuisine is based on British cuisine, but with Mediterranean and Pacific Rim influences. As the cities get more cosmopolitan and as food tourism grows, restaurants take inspiration from all around the world.
Foredeck Restaurant in Marlborough is a fine example of how international cuisine has been seamlessly merged with seasonal and regional cooking traditions in New Zealand. Book here for the best seafood around and a diverse wine menu.
If you’re in Hawkes Bay, Church Road Restaurant is worth a visit, particularly for wine connoisseurs who want exceptional pairing.
Or dine at one of the top wineries in the world and enjoy a casual, modern menu at the Stonyridge Veranda on Waiheke Island. Whether you stop for lunch or dinner, you’re guaranteed the ultimate foodie experience.
Wine Paths creates luxury holidays to New Zealand for travelers who want the perfect blend of nature, gastronomy and culture. Get more information about discovering the land of kiwis and movie sets with our local expert, Sam.