Sunny days and cool nights caress river plains that run to the sea. Discover wine, fruit and seafood that is as unforgettable as the landscapes.
At the top of the South Island, there's an unmistakable freshness to the land and the ocean. Here a friendly artisan culture creates confident and uncluttered cuisine, matched with wines that leap from the glass.
Benefiting from a sunny, maritime climate, the picturesque valley vineyards of Nelson Tasman yield some of New Zealand’s most freshly scented, intensely flavoured sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, as well as vibrant, supple pinot noir.
The famously creative local culture extends to wine making in a multitude of family-owned boutique vineyards. Home to the first commercial vineyard in the South Island, Nelson Tasman is highly sophisticated in the craft of wine-making, yet in many of the cellar doors you’ll still get the opportunity to ‘meet the maker’, as the passion for crafting wonderfully drinkable wines passes through the generations.
Wines from Neudorf Vineyards have found their way onto the wine lists of several great European restaurants, whilst Seifried Estate exports wine to over 28 international destinations. Winery tours and cellar door experiences are a great way to savour the extraordinary wines created from both the rolling hills and the picturesque plains of the region.
If you’re driving around the Nelson Tasman region, keep your eye out for eating opportunities. A variety of artisan food producers will tempt you with breads, chocolates, pesto, chutneys, honey and jams, fine meats and salami. A visit to Nelson’s Wednesday Farmers Market, Nelson’s Saturday Market or the Motueka Sunday Market will be sure to produce similar temptation.
With buzzing central city restaurants, waterside alfresco dining, and an array of award-winning eateries dotted around the region, you’ll never be short of options to savour delicious local cuisine. Oysters, scallops and mussels are regular features on the region’s menus, right from an oyster bar in the central city to a live performance venue in Golden Bay.
The culinary approach in Nelson Tasman is perhaps best described as ‘slow food’. It’s about creating rather than producing, and savouring rather than consuming. There is something for everyone here, from fine dining experiences right through to delicious fish and chips on the waterfront, from craft beer, cider and wine, right through to world famous doughnuts and peanut butter.
With 84% of the country’s sauvignon blanc plantings, Marlborough is New Zealand’s (some say the world’s) sauvignon blanc capital. With robust aromas and crisp flavours of gooseberry and capsicum, this varietal has been a glittering success for New Zealand.
The region’s second VIP grape is pinot noir. Acclaim is mounting for Marlborough’s fragrant, mouth-filling reds which are richly flavoured and supple. Other Marlborough wine specialties include fresh, vibrantly fruity chardonnays and crisp rieslings.
Scores of vineyards rub shoulders along the Wairau and Awatere Valleys. These vast flat areas are ideal for a gentle gourmet cycle tour. From the small township of Renwick, there are 30 great wineries within a 24 kilometre circuit. Bike hire is easy to arrange.
More than 70% of the country's export production of Greenshell mussels takes place in Marlborough Sound while 75% of the King or Chinook harvested salmon is also from there. Visit the seafood farms on an organised tour and sample the local delicacies with a glass of award-winning Marlborough sauvignon blanc
Lunch menus at favourites such as Allan Scott Wines, Brancott Estate Heritage Centre and Wither Hills feature local delicacies like smoked salmon and blue cod. Talented chefs, from New Zealand and around the world, are drawn to Marlborough’s high quality ingredients and outdoor lifestyle.
The Hans Herzog winery and restaurant offers exquisite fine dining in the evening as well as a more relaxed dining for lunch and dinner in their bistro. For something with the extra wow factor, they offer pre-dinner tours of their winery and barrel hall with a tasting of three of Han's unique wines.
In Havelock, "the Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World" succulent mussels can be savoured in a pleasing array of restaurants, cafes and even a cruise.