16 day tour of New Zealand wineries by campervan
This tour takes you to several top New Zealand wine-growing regions. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit some of New Zealand’s most well-known tourist areas. Depending on what sort of campervan or motorhome you hire, you may like to consider free camping – some of the wineries you visit may even let you stay in your campervan onsite. If you don’t intend to stay at camping grounds, make sure you hire a self-contained motorhome.
This is a whirlwind tour and we usually recommend travelling no more than 200 km per day in your rental campervan, so you have plenty of time to actually enjoy New Zealand rather than spending the whole time on the road. We suggest you use this itinerary as a guide and add extra days if possible so you get some no-travel days too.
Day 1 Auckland
Arrive in Auckland and pick up your rental campervan.
Perhaps sample some local wines at one of the great restaurants on Auckland’s buzzing Viaduct, or down trendy Ponsonby Road.
Day 2 Waiheke Island and Auckland
Today take the ferry over the beautiful Waitemata Harbour to Waiheke Island, home to a bunch of boutique New Zealand wineries which are rapidly gaining notoriety. A wide range of grape varieties can be grown and ripened on Waiheke thanks to the long, mild season provided by its coastal location. Waiheke winegrowers regularly win awards for Syrah wines.
On the way back to Auckland, stop in the charming historic village of Devonport to explore the quaint shops and relax with a glass of wine looking out at the harbour.
Day 3 Waitomo and Rotorua
Today drive south to Rotorua, famous for its Maori culture and geothermal activity. On the way, drive through lush farmland to Waitomo and pay a visit to the fascinating limestone glow-worm caves. Continue on to Rotorua. Tonight you may like to experience a traditional Maori hangi dinner and concert, or visit the Polynesian Spa for a soak in a relaxing thermal pool overlooking Lake Rotorua.
Day 4 Rotorua to Hawkes Bay
Explore Rotorua’s geothermal attractions such as Whakarewarewa, Waiotapu, Waimangu or Hells Gate this morning to see boiling mud pools, steam vents, geysers and amazing mineral formations.
Later in the day head to the Hawkes Bay, one of New Zealand’s best-known wine regions. En route, stop at the amazing Huka Falls and if you like prawns, pay a visit to the Wairakei Prawn Farm. Alternatively lunch at Taupo, a popular holiday destination at the edge of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake which is famous for its trout.
The Hawkes Bay wine, food and art trails weave through the major cities of Napier and Hastings and the town of Havelock North, and there are plenty of gourmet treats to discover. Chardonnay and the red grape varietals do particularly well in the Hawkes Bay and the region is also becoming known for trialling new varietals including Viognier, Tempranillo, Gamay and Zinfandel.
Day 5 Hawkes Bay
If you’re interested in architecture, make time for a guided Art Deco walk to explore the fascinating city of Napier.
Later in the day, explore some of the region’s wineries – guided tours are available if you prefer not to drive yourself.
Day 6 Martinborough
This morning head south to Martinborough. Located at the bottom of New Zealand’s North Island at a latitude of 40 degrees south, Martinborough is one of New Zealand’s premium boutique wine regions, known for intensely flavoured wines as well as gourmet cuisine.
Day 7 Martinborough to Marlborough
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in Martinborough before travelling to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. If you have time, a visit to Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand, is highly recommended.
In the afternoon, catch the ferry across the Cook Strait. The three hour ferry trip to Picton, one of the most spectacular boat journeys in the world, offers stunning scenery.
Drive your campervan off the ferry and head to Blenheim in the heart of Marlborough wine country. Now the largest wine producing region in New Zealand, Marlborough is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc which has gained worldwide notoriety.
Day 8 Marlborough
A day in the Marlborough region visiting wineries. If you need a break from the grapes, you’ll find plenty of other fun activities in this area, from hiking and cycle tours to kayaking, swimming with dolphins, boat cruises and garden tours.
Day 9 Blenheim to the West Coast
Today travel inland along State Highway 63 and through Nelson Lakes National Park. Make sure you visit the Punakaiki ‘pancake’ Rocks, a must-see natural wonder.
Overnight in Westport or further down the coast in Greymouth
Day 10 West Coast to Queenstown
Today travel to Hokitika, a small town famous for its greenstone carving and glass blowing, as well as its ‘wild food’ such as whitebait. Then head on to Franz Josef Glacier, a great place to book a helicopter flight with a glacier landing. If you can’t wait to see the spectacular glaciers, check out the movie ‘Flowing West’, shown in the movie theatre of the Alpine Adventures Centre Building.
Overnight Franz Josef or Fox Glacier
Day 11 Franz Josef to Queenstown
This morning set off through the Mount Aspiring National Park towards Queenstown. On the way stop at Lake Matheson, famous for its reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman.
Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand, is surrounded by mountains and dotted with deep river gorges and scenic lakes. This Central Otago region is planted extensively with vineyards and it’s one of the hottest, coldest and driest regions in New Zealand give its wines a distinctive flavour. It’s particularly well known for Pinot Noir and you’ll find lots of other interesting varieties here such as ‘ice wine’.
Day 12 Queenstown
Spend the day enjoying Queenstown today. Take in some wineries, try some adventure activities such as white water rafting or jet boating, or check out some of the Lord of the Rings film sites. A visit to Milford Sound is worth considering though it’s a long day trip so a scenic flight or fly-drive tour will save you some time.
Day 13 Queenstown to Mt Cook
Today depart Queenstown for the Mount Cook region, home of New Zealand’s tallest mountain. You’ll find spectacular scenery on this drive as well as some boutique wineries on the way.
Overnight Mt Cook
Day 14 Mt Cook to Christchurch
Today will be one of the longest driving stretches of your New Zealand campervan rental holiday, but there’s plenty of magnificent scenery to keep you entertained. Arrive in Christchurch and enjoy a relaxing walk in the Botanic Gardens.
Day 15 Christchurch
Spend the day exploring Christchurch – there is heaps to see and do, or if you’re not wineried out, try heading out to visit the boutique wineries on the pretty Akaroa Peninsula, or drive north to the Waipara region, the fastest growing wine region in New Zealand.
Day 16 Depart Christchurch
Drop off your rental campervan or motorhome and depart Christchurch.