New Zealand – Go slow and savour
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is a deliciously indulgent self-guided road journey that puts pleasure and relaxation first. As well as fantastic food and wine, it serves up all kinds of cultural and adventure experiences.
It's a signposted 380km (240 mile) self-drive touring route that leads you off the beaten track and through five of New Zealand's most interesting and scenic regions, including three major wine-growing areas that account for more than 70 percent of the country's wine production.
From Hawke's Bay in the North Island to Marlborough in the South, this is a gourmet motoring holiday that you can design to suit your very own taste and available time, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the local wine and food specialties, as well as compare the subtleties of each region's variations.
Printed guides, suggested itineraries, maps, accommodation and activity recommendations and more make this driving holiday easy. The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is designed to let you discover the great food, wine, cultural delights and adventures that New Zealand has to offer, at your own pace, and has all the makings of an unforgettable journey.
You don't have to do it all at once – if you're taking a short break, pick a part of it and really explore, then save the rest for another visit. The suggested itineraries allow you to select and combine a wide range of experiences to suit your holiday style and passions, whether they be wine and food, art, culture and heritage of the regions, getting outdoors and having an adventure, escaping for a little luxury, indulgence and romance, or looking for ideas for all the family.
Titled Wine and Food, this particular itinerary is a part of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail that is close to our hearts. You'll be won over with Hawke's Bay stylish reds, sexy chardonnays and orchards full of fruit, Wairarapa's pinot noir and pinot grisand Wellington's culinary creativity as well as its robust coffee culture. Last, but not least, Marlborough will introduce you to reputedly the world's best sauvignon blanc – a perfect match for the local scallops and green-lipped mussels.
While the main focus of this journey is wine and food, the route also serves up all kinds of cultural and adventure experiences. Here are just a few ideas along the way:
Most people begin the trail in Hawke's Bay, known for its Art Deco architecture, stunning reds and chardonnay, gourmet cooking schools, stylish country living and the remarkable gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Cycle or drive around countless wineries and sample some award-winning reds as well as stock up at the fantastic farmers' market.
Wine Region details: Hawke’s Bay history abounds with early winemaking successes and continues today with both classic wine styles and experimental varieties new to the region. Red wine production is centred on merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, cabernet franc and malbec. Chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are the main white varietals.
A rural paradise offering lush farmland, native bush, adventurous beaches and rugged forest parks to experience and explore. Go hiking, horse riding or jet boating, visit the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre or shop for interesting antiques in the friendly country towns. Visit the historic Tui Brewery at Mangatainoka which includes a brewery tour, museum, shop and café.
Around the Wairarapa wine region, historic towns offer a tempting mix of shopping and dining experiences. Stroll around the wineries in Martinborough – a beautiful, well-kept small town that just buzzes with wine, fabulous food and friendly people – and throughout the region to discover other goodies like artisan chocolate, gourmet mushrooms, olives, cider and French pastries. Explore the boutique shops of beautifully presented Victorian Greytown and drive to Cape Palliser to see the fur seal colony if you ever tire of their elegant pinots noir.
Wine Region details: The Wairarapa wine region is packed with charm and is an essential destination for those with a palate for fine food and wine. The three sub-regions of Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton include more than 50 boutique wineries, mostly family owned. The focus is always on quality rather than volume.
Reserve at least two days to discover Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. A handsome harbour city brimming with history, interesting architecture, creative energy and culture, it has much to offer. Visit Te Papa Tongarewa, one of the best interactive museums in the world, or catch a live theatre performance as well as discover tasty restaurant precincts. Iconic expeditions include a ride on the cable car, strolling around Oriental Bay and walking up Mount Victoria.
A memorable ferry journey takes you over Cook Strait to the beautiful Marlborough Sounds where you can bike, hike or kayak the famous Queen Charlotte Track. There are more than 50 wineries to visit around Marlborough; many offer the additional pleasure of a vineyard restaurant. Take a cruise in the Marlborough Sounds enjoying local wines served with fresh seafood.
Wine Region details: Made without compromise, Marlborough wines are known for their extraordinary flavours and aromas. The sauvignon blanc grown here is acclaimed throughout the world for its breathtaking pungency and crisp herbaceousness. Pinot noir is also very happy here, a factor that has contributed to the region’s growing success with sparkling wines.
Our best travel tip for enjoying the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail? Go slow and savour every sip of the journey, and discover why New Zealand is a perfect choice for a wine-inspired holiday. We certainly loved our visit – which we did very easily in a hire car – and found some amazing wines we'd never have known about otherwise (and our trip was not paid for by the NZ Tourism authority, or anyone else, for the record).
For all you will need, see the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail information »
- Hawkes Bay (NZ)
- Marlborough (NZ)
- Martinborough (NZ)
- NZ North Island (NZ)
- NZ South Island (NZ)
- Wairarapa (NZ)
- Wellington (NZ)
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