Explore the best of local flavours and drops on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, spanning four of our top wine regions.
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail wine experience spans three of New Zealand’s top wine regions – Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and Martinborough. Together these regions account for 80% of New Zealand’s wine production, are home to 230 wineries and vineyards with more than 100 cellar doors, and have won multiple awards for their fine drops.
New Zealand’s oldest wine region, Hawke’s Bay is best known for its Bordeaux-blend reds and Chardonnay. There are more than 70 wineries, many with cellar doors and fantastic restaurants on site. Cycle the Hawke’s Bay Trails to enjoy the best this region has to offer. Along with wineries, fresh produce and artisan products – both available at the farmers’ markets and local gourmet stores – make the wine experience in Hawke’s Bay truly exceptional.
Packed with colonial charm and around 20 award-winning vineyards, Martinborough is at the heart of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail and the Wairarapa wine experience. Vineyards are located within close proximity, and cycling or walking is a good way to explore them. Gladstone and Masterton are other wine sub-regions in the area.
Wairarapa celebrates its distinct wine culture and world-class drops with two popular annual events – Toast Martinborough (November) and the Wairarapa Harvest Festival (March). If you’re planning to visit at these times, don’t miss these festivals.
New Zealand’s largest wine producing area and the Sauvignon Capital of New Zealand, Marlborough is on every wine enthusiast’s bucket list. And while sauvignon blanc is the region’s top-seller, it produces excellent chardonnay, resiling and pinot noir. Home to Marlborough Sounds, it comes as no surprise that fresh seafood is abundant here – and makes a delightful match to the region’s wines.
While the main focus of the journey is wine and food, the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail also serves up all kinds of adventure and cultural experiences.
Hastings and Napier in Hawke’s Bay have some of the finest Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture in the world, courtesy of a major rebuild following a catastrophic earthquake in 1931. Hawke’s Bay is also home to fascinating wildlife, including the world’s largest mainland gannet colony.
Among other charming historic townships on this route are Greytown, Featherston, Carterton and Martinborough in Wairarapa. Nearby Wellington is not just the country’s capital but also its foodie and cultural centre. It is packed with award-winning eateries, cafes and breweries. Don’t forget to visit Te Papa, our national museum or take the cable car to the Botanic Gardens for superb views of the city.
Marlborough’s main centre Blenheim is a friendly town, packed with eateries that make the most of the region’s fresh seafood and the fascinating Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. Explore the intricate waterways of Marlborough Sounds on a cruise – the Greenshell Mussel Cruise departing Havelock is very popular. For the more adventurous, cycling or walking the Queen Charlotte Track is recommended.
You can start your discovery of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail from the north or the south. There are plenty of road signs to guide you on this indulgent journey if you’re doing a self-drive. We suggest taking your time exploring the regions – allow at least 4-6 days on this trail. Click here for a suggested route.
A number of guided tours are also available. And if you’re keen to pedal your way through the wines, each of three regions has plenty of bike hire options available.