Savour the Flavours on the Classic NZ Wine Trail
70% of New Zealand’s total wine production comes from these three regions and many of the better-known wineries and restaurants are located along the route. Hawke’s Bay is renowned for its Chardonnay, Martinborough for its outstanding Pinot Noir and Marlborough for the world’s leading Sauvignon Blanc.A scenic touring route links three great wine regions – Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa / Martinborough and Marlborough.
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is a 240-mile touring route, which offers an unforgettable themed tour for self-drive wine and food lovers as they travel through the lower North Island to the top of the South Island.
The route takes in some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery and offers an easy drive along uncongested roads where distances are relatively short: Hastings to Martinborough is 3 hours, Martinborough to Wellington takes I hour 15 minutes and Picton to Blenheim is 30 minutes.
Visitors also take in one of the world’s most scenic sea ferry trips, across the Cook Strait, either by fast (2 hrs) or conventional ferry (3hrs).
Getting on and off the Wine Trail
- Napier Airport: regular domestic flights
- Wellington Airport: regular domestic & international flights
- Blenheim Airport: regular domestic flights
- Auckland-Napier: 264 miles
- Rotorua-Napier: 140 miles
- Taupo-Napier: 89 miles
- Christchurch-Blenheim: 194 miles
- Greymouth-Blenheim: 202 miles
- Nelson-Blenheim: 51 miles
- Toast Martinborough: Third Sunday in November
- Harvest Hawkes Bay: First week of February
- Wine Marlborough: Second Saturday in February
ITINERARY SUGGESTIONS on The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail
A Suggested 6-Night Classic New Zealand Wine Trail Tour Package featuring Boutique Character Accommodation
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, as all great wine regions of the world do, offers a rich variety of heritage and historic character accommodation en route. Travel along The Wine Trail and stay for 2-nights at each hotel in this flexible itinerary which can be tailored to individual preference or personal whim each day.
Itinerary suggestions illustrate a typical North to South journey, as part of an easy-going New Zealand-wide vacation with a culinary focus. Visitors hungry for activity can take in golf, jet boating, fishing, kayaking, forest walks, horse treks, swimming with dolphins, bungy jumping and other adventures, all along the Trail.
Fly Auckland to picturesque Napier city, or drive from Rotorua (allow 3.5 hours) or Taupo (2.5 hours) past lakes, sheep stations, and forestry plantations. Allow a few hours to tour Napier’s Art Deco buildings, enjoy local cafes that offer great coffee and excellent food in a city reborn after the 1931 earthquake and fire leveled the town centre. Then onto Hastings 30 minutes out of Napier to relax into the charm of either Greenhill Lodge or McHardy Lodge the first night on the Trail.
An early breakfast is recommended. Then view the magnificent gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers or the Bay’s coastal attractions. By now a winery lunch is on the agenda – try Te Awa Farm Winery, or the Epicurean center at Sileni Estates, which boasts gourmet products, two restaurants and a culinary school or Craggy Range Winery with a circular restaurant surrounded by a lakefront, which reflects the beautiful rolling hills and restaurant, allows for a grand view while you enjoy wine tasting and a fine dining experience. Many wineries are open year-round, including historic Mission Estate, established by Catholic missionaries in 1851.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning before a comfortable 3-hour drive South on State Highway 2, through typical New Zealand farmland, quaint towns and orchards. A great stop for a mid-morning snack or lunch and unique shopping is found in Greytown at its craft shops in the charmingly restored buildings, many of which date back to 1854, when the town was established. North of Masterton, a must-see is the vast Mt Bruce Wildlife Reserve with its breeding programs for endangered wildlife. If time allows, start your Martinborough experience with a late afternoon wine tasting, or simply relax in the personalized charm of Peppers Parehua Country Estate , or the boutique restored Martinborough Hotel.
A morning stroll around Martinborough Wine Village offers a leisurely start to a day of fine food and wine tasting. Leading wineries such as Ata Rangi, Martinborough Vineyard and Palliser Estate are all within easy walking distance of the Village Square. Or if you prefer, join a Gourmet Wine Escape small group tour with visits to boutique and Leading wineries with a gourmet lunch. It is Pinot Noir that has put Martinborough on the world wine map but check the regional qualities of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Syrah. The Martinborough Wine Centre is a must, with its extensive cellar and tasting of local wines – as well as being a great place for lunch.
The morning choices are plentiful. In the Wairarapa, the seal colony and Palliser lighthouse will absorb a full morning; the fishing fleet at Ngawi is an inspiring sight and Featherston offers several intriguing museums. But less than 2 hours away, Wellington’s arts, cuisine and culture beckon, before the afternoon Interisland ferry departs. Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, is modern, interactive and informative. Allow a generous half-day to travel from Wairarapa to Marlborough by road and ferry. Unwind at exclusive lakeside Timara Lodge, or indulge in the gourmet experience of stylish Marlborough Vintners Hotel built amongst the vines.
This day promises a true pilgrimage through a region saluted for its Sauvignon Blanc, but remember its cool climate Pinot Noir and fine Rieslings also win international praise. More than 40 wineries are within a mere 10 miles of Blenheim, including the iconic Cloudy Bay Winery and Timara Lodge’s own Spy Valley Vineyard. Lunch al fresco at Allan Scott’s or Wairau River Wines. Visit boutique producers, or head south to Kaikoura; famous for year-round whale watching and an opportunity to swim with the dolphins. Or explore the tranquil shores of the Marlborough Sounds on forest walks, by sea kayak or cruise boat.The Hotel d’Urville Culinary School includes gourmet-guided tours to both Kaikoura and the Marlborough Sounds. Another wonderful wine and dine option to consider is Herzog’s Winery & Luxury Restaurant, a hideaway in the middle of Marlborough’s vineyards; unsurpassed cuisine and atmosphere in all of New Zealand. Open mid-October through the end of April – a definite must experience for Food & Wine connoisseurs.
On this last leisurely morning, visit Marlborough’s potters, craft shops and gourmet food producers – or linger for a last drop of wine tasting. Take one of the many flights daily from Blenheim to major centers, or opt for the spectacular coastal drives south or west, to complete your tour.
To request a quote on the above-mentioned itinerary or to discuss a custom itinerary, please contact one of Pacific Destination Center’s food & wine experts at (800) 227-5317.
Further information can be found on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail website.