New Zealand is globally renowned for its wine industry. The country’s rich pinot noir and sauvignon blanc offerings are bound to pique the interests of seasoned connoisseurs and novice enthusiasts alike. Get a taste of wineries and vineyards on both of New Zealand’s islands with these incredible excursions.
Local knowledge makes a difference. In 2011, Wayne Eagleton and Jean Goodbrand brought together their extensive tourism experience to create 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, Auckland Fine Wine Tours takes its guests 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 give travellers the opportunity to sample local culinary 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 connoisseurs and first-time tasters on an 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.
For a fun, hands-on way to explore the Hawke’s Bay wine scene, choose between hiring a tandem bike or a mountain bike for the day, and then head for a scenic self-guided trip on the countryside trails. Wineries you can pass through include Ash Ridge Wines, Trinity Hill, Ngatarawa Estate, Te Awa, Abbey Estate, Alpha Domus and Sileni Estates.
Established in 1999, Marlborough Wine Tours takes you on a journey across the major vineyards in the region. Their flexible, personalised experiences range from three-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 just a bit of help getting a self-driven route on track. Founder Greg Beachen has been actively involved in the tourism industry in both New Zealand and the UK for several years and is a self-professed merlot man.