Wines New Zealand
Don’t leave without having tasted some of the wines New Zealand produces! Although New Zealand doesn’t produce a lot of wine (not even one percent of the world’s total production), the quality is sometimes excellent (some of its wines rank among the best in the world). This is especially true for the white wines of New Zealand: the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chardonnay.
Of course you can just go to a supermarket, buy your choice of New Zealand white and red wines, and then go back to your camper van to sample them. But it’s much more fun to visit some of the wineries. Most of them offer free tastings, though sometimes you have to pay a small charge. Some wineries even have a restaurant, where you can enjoy a lunch.
New Zealand has about ten wine growing regions. You probably won’t have the time to visit them all, so we recommend you confine yourself to Hawkes Bay and Martinborough on the North Island, and the Marlborough region on the South Island. These areas produce some of New Zealand’s finest wines.
Wines New Zealand: Hawkes Bay
First of all, Hawkes Bay is famous because of its main town, Napier, that was largely destroyed during the 1931 earthquake, and rebuilt in Art Deco style. Second, this region is definitely worth a visit because of its wineries: it’s New Zealand’s oldest and second largest wine producing region (after Marlborough). There are almost thirty vineyards in Hawkes Bay, some of them more than a hundred years old. The most famous wineries are Mission Estate Winery (originally founded to produce sacramental wine) and Church Road Winery. Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape variety of Hawkes Bay.
Wines New Zealand: Martinborough
If you love red wine, you certainly should check out the Martinborough wineries. After about an hour drive from Wellington (north east), you’ll find yourself in the heart of this small wine making region. This region (Wairarapa) is famous for its red wines (Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon), but also produces some very good white wines. There are more than twenty wineries in and around Martinborough. Here, you don’t need your New Zealand camper van to get around: most of the wineries are easily accessible on foot.
For a list and map of the Martinborough wineries, check out:martinborough wineries (use the search boxes in the right hand column of the destination page to select Martinborough wineries)
Wines New Zealand: Marlborough
Marlborough, on the South Island, is the biggest wine producing area of New Zealand (and also one of the youngest: the first vines were planted here in 1973!). The wineries are all located around Blenheim, the ‘sunshine capital of New Zealand’. The region is renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc, but as for ourselves, we preferred the less known Riesling and Gewürztraminer. And don’t forget to try some of the dessert wines (we really loved the Late Harvest Selection, that we discovered at Montana Brancott Winery, one of the oldest and largest wineries in the area). Unfortunately, these dessert wines are not (yet) available outside of New Zealand.
For a list of the Marlborough wineries, see marlborough wineries.