Dreaming about hopping between NZ’s famed wineries and vineyards? Let us help you with our guide to New Zealand’s best wine regions.
Some of the world’s craziest tourism creations have come out of New Zealand, including Bungy jumping and zorbing, but there’s another creation that has the world talking, and that’s the country’s delicious, award-winning wines.
With a knack for producing varieties that are bold and smooth or light and fruity, it’s no surprise that many of New Zealand’s wineries are ranked among the best in the world. From the big names like Marlborough that put sauvignon blanc on the map, to the smaller, lesser-known regions like Waiheke Island, we’re here to take you on a virtual tasting journey through New Zealand’s wine regions.
A wine-lover’s island 40 minutes by ferry off the coast of the mainland, Waiheke has more than 30 lush vineyards and cellar doors, beaches and olive groves. While it might be a relatively new wine region compared to some of the more established ones on the mainland, the unique limestone soils are filled with various minerals that have attracted a handful of curious and adventurous producers from all over. As a result, the wines are equally as adventurous. The dominant grape is pinot noir; however, you’ll also find plenty of resiling or pinot gris.
Our favourite winery: Mudbrick Winery and Vineyard a family-owned and operated vineyard perfect for long lunches where you can sit out in the gardens and gaze across the harbour to Auckland city
Ready to escape? Check out our collection of offers to Waiheke Island
Gisborne might claim the title as the first city in the world to greet the sun each morning, but it’s also known as the chardonnay capital of New Zealand and is revered for its world-class gewurtztraminer and pinot gris. With a relaxing coastal atmosphere, and one of the best surf breaks in New Zealand, Gisborne is a popular spot that never fails to impress wine lovers and travellers from near and far.
Our favourite winery: Matawhero Wines, one of the oldest in the region and its grapes are 100% naturally dry-farmed, meaning using natural rainfall and no irrigation.
Blessed with long hours of sunshine and rich fertile plains, Hawke’s Bay is one of the biggest wine producers. If the thought of a fragrant syrah, a flavourful merlot or a rich pinot noir tantalises your palate or aromatic pinot gris and full-bodied chardonnay makes your heart sing, then you’re in the right place. If you’re feeling active, try the more than 200 kilometres of cycling, with no shortage of delicious stops along the way, including Pacifica Restaurant, Craggy Range Restaurant or the Mangapapa Kitchen among others.
Our favourite winery: Church Road Winery, one of the most awarded wineries that is the complete winery experience, with an expansive cellar door, daily winery experiences and an à la carte restaurant.
Tucked away just an hours’ drive north of Wellington, the winery hub of Wairarapa is a must for wine lovers seeking heavy pinot noirs, herbaceous reisling or a refreshing pinot gris. Sharing a similar climate to Burgundy in France, the wineries of Wairarapa are divided into three sub-regions – Martinborough, Masterton and Gladstone. Martinborough is the most well-known and is home to approximately 20 wineries that are within walking or cycling distance from the picturesque town.
Our favourite winery: Cambridge Road, a producer of natural biodynamic organic wines, and the first of its kind in the region to use a ceramic egg-shaped vat to ferment wine.
If you love sauvignon blanc, a visit to Marlborough, is a must. Located in the northeast corner of the South Island, Marlborough’s crisp soils matched with cool nights and sun-soaked days lends itself perfectly to creating an unmatched flavour and aroma for the perfect sauvignon blanc – a secret the region’s original winemakers identified in the 1880s. If the fruity aromas of sauvignon blanc are not to your preference, fear not, as there’s more to this region than one varietal. Here, you’ll also find deep and complex reds filled with body, along with fragrant chardonnays and a crisp riesling, and for foodies, green-lipped mussels are a must-try and are famously grown in the region. Before you depart, be sure to visit Marlborough Sounds – a collection of sheltered waters and framed with lush, forested mountains.
Our favourite winery: Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, one of Marlborough’s premier cellar doors, with majestic views and home to the original sauvignon blanc from Marlborough – with the first seeds planted in 1973, and by 1979, Marlborough’s first ever Sauvignon Blanc was born.
Nestled on the northern tip of the South Island, this picturesque wine-producing region benefits from long hours of sunshine and a moderate coastal climate, resulting in a selection of classic and emerging varietals that have long captured the attention of wine connoisseurs from around the world.
The valley vineyards of Nelson yield some of New Zealand’s most freshly scented sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, as well as vibrant pinot noir, and the grapes are mostly strung along the rolling Moutere Hills and picturesque Waimea Plains.
Our favourite winery: Kina Beach Vineyard a small family-owned wine estate overlooking the beautiful Tasman Sea.
A region that is undeniably filled with remarkable contrasts, from the azure glacial lakes to the wild and rugged coastline, Canterbury is a place where you can unearth plenty of ways to fill your day. With an expansive wine region that stretches along the eastern coastline, the cool yet dry climate combined with excellent sunshine-filled days allows for grapes including pinot noir, resiling and chardonnay to be filled with complex and rich flavours, resulting in bottles filled with intense flavours and just the right amount of richness.
Throughout your stay, you can marvel at the night sky in the world’s largest International Dark Sky Reserve or get up close with whales in Kaikōura year-round and spot different whales depending on the season. Then, there’s the opportunity to sit back and relax in Hanmer Springs’ natural hot pools.
Our favourite winery: Black Estate, an architectural marvel framed by organic and biodynamic vineyards. Here, you can get a taste for top-notch natural wines or take a seat in the restaurant and soak up views of the rolling vineyards.
A renowned landscape of towering snow-capped peaks, home to Queenstown – the Adventure capital – and and one of New Zealand’s most scenic wine regions, Central Otago proudly produces some of the best pinot noir in the world alongside bold white wine varietals.
Want to extend your stay in Queenstown? Check out our Five-Star Heritage Queenstown Lakefront Escape with Daily Breakfast & Welcome Wine or travel a little further for our South Island Hilltop Heritage Lodge Retreat in North Otago.
Here, the cool climate lends itself perfectly to the fickle nature of growing or producing pinot noir, while at the same time, adds an impressive freshness to popular whites. Across the region, wine production is split among six distinct sub-regions, including Gibbston, Wanaka, Bannockburn, Alexandra and the Cromwell Basin. While each is within close proximity to each other, the terrain varies enough to allow each to have its own niche.
Our favourite winery: Rippon Vineyard, one of the most spectacularly located wineries in the world and home to some of the region’s oldest vines and most distinct wines. Be sure to sample the mature vine pinot noir, young vine pinot noir, or the gamay and rose.
Ready to explore New Zealand’s wine regions? Take a look at our escapes here.