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Wine Lovers' Itinerary

Follow the vines (1-3 weeks)

Wine

Wine lovers could get lost in New Zealand for months if they wanted. There are just so many great wine regions to explore.

This itinerary runs north to south. You’ll need a rental car, and can drop into or out of the itinerary at any point along the way.

Days 1-3: Auckland Region (including Waiheke Island)

Chances are that you’ll be flying into Auckland, so this is a good place to start. Definitely head to Waiheke Island for a day and if time permits, north to Matakana or to the wineries out west.

Days 4-6: Auckland to Gisborne

It’s a 6.5hr drive from Auckland through to Gisborne on the East Coast and you may want to break it up with a visit to Rotorua for a night or two for some Maori culture and geothermal hot springs. You’ll want at least a day visiting Gisborne wineries.

Days 7-8: Gisborne to Hawkes Bay

Allow 3 hours for the drive to Napier, at the heart of the country’s second largest wine-producing region. Lots of wineries to visit in Hawkes Bay.

Days 9-10: Hawkes Bay to Martinborough

It’s a 3 to 3.5hr drive south to Martinborough, in the Wairarapa, where you’ll find plenty of top wineries, plus some good accommodation options.

Days 11-13: Martinborough to Marlborough

Martinborough is only an hour’s drive north of Wellington, so you may want to overnight in the capital before taking a ferry to the South Island. Once in Picton, it’s only a 30-minute drive to Blenheim at the heart of Marlborough wine territory. This is NZ’s biggest wine-producing region and offers a lot more than just the Sauvignon Blanc for which it is famous.

Days 13-14: Marlborough to Christchurch

Allow 4 hours for the drive from Blenheim to Christchurch, but an hour north of the South Island’s biggest city, you’ll pass through Waipara and the Canterbury wineries - which could well waylay you for a day or two.

Days 15-18: Christchurch to Queenstown

The magnificent 6hr drive through to Queenstown can be broken up with visits to, or stays in, Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook. Once in Queenstown though, there are so many wine options within an hour’s drive of this popular alpine resort. Wineries in Central Otago, the Gibbston Valley and around Wanaka are legendary for their Pinot Noir and much, much more.

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New Zealand Wine Regions

Out West

Canterbury Wine

Top drops north of Christchurch

Central Otago Wine

Lots of Pinot tasting options!

Gisborne Wine

Top chardonnay & pinot gris

Hawke's Bay Wine

Over 35 cellar doors in the sunny Bay

Marlborough Wine

NZ's largest wine-producing region

Matakana

Booming thanks to wineries!

Queenstown Wines

Great options in the Gibbston Valley

Waiheke Island Wine

World-renowned wine destination

Martinborough Wine

Only a scenic drive from Wellington

Text © Craig McLachlan

Images by craig, Evan Wood