Local knowledge makes a difference. In 2011, Wayne Eagleton and Jean Goodbrand brought together their extensive tourism experience to create the Waiheke Island Wine Tours. Their hard work has paid off too, as the company has received Certificates of Excellence from TripAdvisor for four years in a row. Travellers can opt to take the ferry to Waiheke Island and go on a one-day guided tour, or they can indulge in a two-day package. Small groups are guided along boutique vineyards, and will have the opportunity to savour some of the best local productions.
Led by Kiwi writer Phil Parker, the Auckland Fine Wine Tours takes its visitors around all the major vineyards in the region. This includes Matakana in the north, Waiheke Island along the Hauraki Gulf, and the historic Kumeu region on the west coast. The tour has a handful of awards under its belt, and promises to bring travellers the opportunity to sample local food delicacies as well as the area’s finest wine offerings.
This tour invites its guests to explore the wonderful vineyards in Queenstown and Central Otago. As with the previous items on our list, the Queenstown Wine Trail is operated by a couple of long-time locals, Lance Benseman and Heather McDonald. Their Original Wine Tour takes seasoned connoiseurs and first-time tasters onto a underground journey through the wine caves. The company’s Sampler package delivers an afternoon filled with Central Otago food and drink treasures, including a special cheese degustation stopover at the esteemed Gibbston Valley.
A fun, hands-on way to explore the Hawke’s Bay wine scene. You can choose between hiring a tandem bike or a mountain bike for the day, then head for a scenic self-guided trip on the countryside trails. Wineries you can pass through include the Ash Ridge Wines, Trinity Hill, Ngatarawa Estate, Te Awa, Abbey Estate, Alpha Domus, and Silieni Estates.
Established in 1999, the Marlborough Wine Tours takes visitors on a journey across the major vineyards in the region. Their flexible, personalised, experiences range from 3-hour tours to day-long trips. Key points of departure include Picton, where the Wellington Interisland Ferry drops off South Island-bound travellers, and Blenheim. If you feel like soaking up the scenery, the company offers a morning cruise that’s directly followed by an afternoon of wine tasting.
Bay Tours Nelson has been in the wine, brewery and scenic tours business since 1996. Owned and operated by Sue Paterson and Owen Perry, the company offers a treasure trove of tasteful excursions around the Nelson region. Their Gourmet Wine Tour, for instance, visits local award-winning wineries like the Waimea Plains and the Moutere Hills. Along with receiving a full degustation masterclass, tourists are also given some insight into the area’s history.
With tours covering Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, Napier, and the entire New Zealand Wine Trail, Grape Escape goes above and beyond when it comes to accommodating the holidaying crowds. Their aim is to ensure there are no hassles along your scenic, wine and food-filled journey, whether you’re looking for a guided expedition, or you just need a bit of help getting a self-driven route on track. Founder Greg Beachen has been actively involved in the tourism industry, both in New Zealand and the UK, for several years, and is a self-professed Merlot Man.