New Zealand is home to a number of world-class wineries and breweries.
Kiwis have developed a discerning palate when it comes to wine and beer, reflected in the number of high-quality wineries and breweries throughout the country.
New Zealand wine is distinctive for its purity, vibrancy and intensity. The long ripening period – a result of cooler temperatures – allows flavour development whilst retaining fresh acidity, a balance which New Zealand wines are famous for. A lot of the country’s plentiful vineyards are located in spectacular locations, be it close to a stunning shoreline or perched high amidst alpine peaks.
As well as award-winning vino, New Zealanders love a great beer. While well established and internationally renowned Kiwi beer brands such as Steinlager, Speight’s and Tui continue to thrive, more than 50 boutique micro-breweries have sprung up in almost every region of New Zealand – each offering their own unique blends and identity.
The Hawke’s Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago are signature New Zealand wine regions and home to a number different vineyards. Smaller wine-producing areas include Auckland, Gisborne and Waipara. If you’re keen on seeing the best of what kiwi vineyards have to offer, check out the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail – a wine-tasting adventure through the heart of New Zealand’s grape growing regions.
Hawke’s Bay is one of the hottest and sunniest areas of the country. A maritime climate, free draining soil types, low rainfall and a long growing season provide for a range of vineyards in the area, with Chardonnay and Cabernet Merlot making up half of their annual vintage.
Further south, at the bottom of the North Island, lies Martinborough. Famed for its Pinot Noir, the region’s most planted grape variety, Martinborough vineyards also produce great Sauvignon Blanc. Wineries in Auckland’s Matakana, Kumeu and Waiheke Island are famous for producing rich Merlot and smooth, fruity Chardonnay. Sunny Gisborne, on New Zealand’s East Cape, is home to wineries that produce exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.
It has been said that there is no wine anywhere in the world that tastes like the wine of Marlborough, located at the tip of the South Island. Here lies a magical synergy of climate and soil that creates vineyards famous for their production of Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand’s leading wine region, Marlborough’s vineyards are recognised as some of the best in the world.
Towards the bottom of the South Island lies Central Otago, the world’s most southerly wine-producing region. Vineyards here are truly spectacular, ringed by mountains and interlaced with lakes and deep river gorges. The cool climate, combined with glacially derived soils, means wineries here produce a highly elegant Pinot Noir. Waipara, in central South Island, is also famous for producing this blend as well as Chardonnay and Riesling.
Today there are more than 250 beers brewed in New Zealand, with each brewery offering their own unique style. As well as sampling the various tipples at source, beer lovers can extend their knowledge by attending a few of New Zealand’s lively beer festivals.
New Zealand’s oldest breweries and pubs date back to the 19th century when pioneers first began to quench their thirst on the local product.
In the North Island, the Tui Brewery was established in 1889 on the banks of the Mangatainoka River – after founder Henry Wagstaff reputedly stopped for a cuppa and discovered the finest water he’d ever tasted. The Wairarapa Brewery, which established a reputation for export-quality brews, is a popular tourist attraction. Russell’s Duke of Marlborough Hotel, in the far north, was the country’s first licensed hotel and was built in 1827.
The South Island’s Speight’s Brewery, in Dunedin, is a local icon that has been serving up its ‘Pride of the South’ brew since 1876. Monteith’s Brewery, on the other side of the Southern Alps in Greymouth, maintains beer brewing traditions that reach back to mid-1880s gold rush times.
Nelson – at the top of the South Island – is New Zealand’s hop-growing centre, and boasts more craft breweries per head of population than any other part of the country. It’s also the location of Marchfest, an annual event loosely based around Oktoberfest, but also with a focus on local tasty delicacies. Nearby Blenheim hosts the Blues, Brews & BBQs festival each February, and Beervana, New Zealand’s largest beer festival, is held yearly in Wellington.