Classic NZ Wine Trail - Must Do
Published: 07/05/2012 by Classic New Zealand Wine Trail
Let the journey begin
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail serves up unforgettable wine and food experiences along the signposted 380km (240 mile) route.
The journey takes you on a drive through regions accounting for more than 80% of New Zealand’s wine production. Combined with the farmers’ markets, eateries and artisan food producers you’ll encounter along the way, the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail offers New Zealand’s most memorable wine and food experiences.
“Must do” experiences on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail
This itinerary includes the experiences that you simply don’t want to miss. These are the things that will form the ‘bones’ of your itinerary. Now build your ultimate Classic New Zealand Wine Trail itinerary by selecting from a wide range of experiences to suit every holiday style, whether your passion is wine and food, discovering the art culture and heritage of the regions, getting outdoors and having an adventure, escaping for a little luxury, indulgence and romance or looking for ideas for all the family.
When you’re travelling between regions, allow plenty of time so that you can do things on the spur of the moment. You might see an appealing walkway, picnic area or shop that’s not on your itinerary.
Day 1. Hawke's Bay
Take a tour to the tip of Cape Kidnappers, home of the largest, most accessible mainland gannet colony in the world. www.gannetsafaris.co.nz or www.gannets.com Learn about the destructive 1931 earthquake and re sulting Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture by taking a guided tour around Napier city. www.artdeconapier.com
Be adventurous and dare yourself to take a swim at The National Aquarium of New Zealand in the main oceanarium with the sharks, stingrays and other marine life swimming around you. This is the only place in New Zealand that you can swim freely with sharks www.nationalaquarium.co.nz
Challenge yourself to a round of golf atop dramatic cliffs at internationally acclaimed Cape Kidnappers International Golf Course www.capekidnappers.com
Sample Hawke’s Bay’s award-winning wines b y visiting the New Zealand Wine Centre www.newzealandwinecentre.co.nz or take a half, full day or evening tour with a local guide or explore the vineyards on a bicycle www.winehawkesbay.co.nz. See the list on the right for specific tour information.
Day 2. Hawke’s Bay to Wairarapa via the Tararua District
Take a leisurely drive along State Highway 2 following the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail signs. Take in the relaxed country atmosphere and warm hospitality.
Visit historic Tui Brewery in Mangataino ka. Tour the brewery, then taste your way through the selection of ales. The Tui HQ experience includes a brewery tour, museum, shop and café www.tui.co.nz
Spend time at Pukaha Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre, a nationally and internationally recognised captive breeding facility for a number of threatened bird species including Kiwi. Pukaha Mount Bruce is home to Manukura, the very rare white kiwi - you can see her in the Kiwi House. Check out the Kiwi theatre, the interactive gallery and stroll through beautiful native bush. www.pukaha.org.nz
Day 3. Wairarapa
Drive an easy circuit through farmland to outlying vineyard clusters and charming small villages.
Tour and discover boutique family-owned vineyards and artisan food producers in Martinborough, Greytown, Gladstone and Masterton.
Explore the vineyards of Martinborough on foot and by cycle.
Drive to Cape Palliser where you will find a variety of adventures. Walk to the intriguing Putanguirua Pinnacles, see the fishing settlement of Ngawi, spy on the North Island’s largest colony of fur seals, and walk the 258 steps of the historic Cape Palliser lighthouse for an incredible view. Eat fish and chips at the Lake Ferry Hotel with views across Lake Onoke.
Download a detailed map of the Wairarapa Wine Trail or collect one from the local i-SITE visitor centre or cellar doors when you arrive in the region.
Day 4. Wairarapa to Wellington
Nestled between a sparkling harbour and rolling green hills, Wellington offers a chic city experience in a stunning natural setting. One day isn’t really enough to do the city justice, but if that’s all you have, strap on some comfortable shoes because the best way to discover Wellington’s magic is on foot. Discover New Zealand’s stories and history at Te Papa Tongarewa, one of the best interactive museums in the world. www.tepapa.govt.nz
Book a nocturnal tour at ZEALANDIA: The Karori Sanctuary Experience and try spotting New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi. ZEALANDIA is a predator-proof safe haven for endangered native birds and other wildlife, just 10 minutes from downtown Wellington. www.visitzealandia.com
Check out the boutique shopping along Lambton Quay and Cuba Street. Catch the historic cable car from Lambton Quay to the Botanic Garden. Check out the Cable Car Museum at the top, then stroll through the gardens. Wellington is well known for its café life – take tim e out for coffee and cake. This is Peter Jackson’s hometown. Take a film tour to learn more about the making of movies including teh Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Avatar, King Kong, Tin Tin and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Courtenay Place is the nightlife capital of New Zealand, packed with restaurants, bars, cafes, cinemas and theatres. Choose from ethnic eats to some of the best fine dining restaurants in New Zealand and follow it up with a walk along Cuba Street for live music, a late night wine bar or cocktails at The Matterhorn, multiple winner of the Best Bar in New Zealand.
Day 5. Wellington to Marlboough
Fly or cruise across the Cook Strait to Marlborough in the South Island. By ferry: Interislander Bluebridge
By air: Air New Zealand , Sounds Air Picton Floatplane Service – www.nz-scenic-flights.co.nz
Take a cruise on the Marlborough Sounds to explore hidden bays, historic locations or board a twilight cruise over the summer season enjoying local wines served with fresh seafood.
Day 6. Marlborough
Tour the wineries samplin g New Zealand’s internationally-acclaimed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Catch a helicopter for a wine tour with a difference. Hire a bike and cycle around the wineries, gathering a few bottles as you go.
Visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, a multi-sensory exp erience of WW1 aviation, designed to educate and entertain all ages. Brought to life by Peter Jackson, Director of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit www.omaka.org.nz
Staying on track
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is marked with brown road signs displaying grapes. Even if you decide to do a whirlwind five-day itinerary, you’ll only drive for around three hours a day on high quality roads and highways. Traffic is generally light in New Zealand, so driving is relatively stress-free.