Cameron Douglas’s Wine-tinerary

21 Days

Highlights

  • Boutique wineries
  • Innovative restaurants
  • Food and wine pairings

Raise your glass for New Zealand’s best boutique wineries on this premium wine tour, curated by Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s pint-sized wine industry packs a global punch that belies its size. On this self-guided wine tour, you’ll discover why this country’s wines have caught the world’s attention. Created in collaboration with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas, the wine-tinerary showcases the best each wine region has to offer with a selection of Cameron’s favourite wineries and restaurants. Along with tips for wine and food pairings that highlight why you can’t truly appreciate wine unless you look beyond the cellar door to the food on your plate. 

New Zealand’s wines

Producing just one percent of the world's wine, New Zealand proves it’s not a question of how much? But how?  

Three quarters of the country’s wine is produced by boutique wineries and family farmers on vineyards occupying less space than Disneyland in California. They are also among the world’s most sustainable, with 96% of the country’s vineyards having Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand accreditation. 

A cooler, oceanic climate produces lower yields but more intense flavours. And the eight winegrowing regions each have unique soils and climatic conditions that are expressed in their wines – for instance, Marlborough’s minerally sauvignon blanc vs Otago’s intense pinot noir. 

Cameron Douglas 

Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas considers himself to be an unofficial ambassador for New Zealand’s wine. He writes, talks, and teaches on the subject all over the world. And when he’s not promoting the brand overseas, he’s obsessively visiting each region, rediscovering it all over again.  

Day 1 - 3: Auckland

auckland

Auckland

Highlights

  • Bars & restaurants
  • Arts & culture
  • Stunning beaches

Auckland is surrounded by wineries, but Cameron recommends starting with Brick Bay Wines & Sculpture Trail(opens in new window). This is a sustainable vineyard with boutique wines and a quirky sculpture trail through native bush. 

Head to Ada(opens in new window) for a menu inspired by Māori ingredients and cooking techniques. Try the Beef short rib, horopito and harakeke rub, hay baked witloof, topped with Kahurangi blue cheese. Or the Hāngī pork belly, which is slowly cooked in the ground before being combined with a potato mousse, crispy onions, cured egg yolk, and chive oil. 

Day 4 - 5: Waiheke Island

auckland

Auckland

Highlights

  • Beaches
  • Vineyards
  • EcoZip Adventures

Just 40 minutes from central Auckland is Waiheke Island, a spectacular enclave featuring many of the country’s greatest hits, such as, picturesque wineries, golden beaches, and electric-green sheep-lined hills. Here, you’ll find exciting cabernet blends, along with less established but equally punchy syrah, chardonnay, viognier, and pinot gris. 

Winemaking has come a long way since the days of stomping on grapes, but at Batch Winery(opens in new window) some things haven’t moved on. This is where gravity does the work of mechanical pumps and where wines are slowly aged in oak barrels. Cameron recommends their Thomas Legacy chardonnay, which is perfect when paired with a seared fish of the day and macadamia. Also, try a Thomas syrah with wagyu beef or goat's cheese risotto. 

End your visit with lunch at The Shed(opens in new window), an award-winning restaurant nestled among the vines of the Te Motu vineyard. If you can, opt for seafood. Cameron recommends pairing oysters with local dry white wines and pinot gris with seafood pastas.  

Day 6 - 8: Hawke’s Bay

hawkes-bay

Hawke's Bay

Highlights

  • Te Mata Peak
  • Cape Kidnappers
  • Art Deco tours

Continue down the east coast to the Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand’s second largest wine region, famed for its bordeaux blends, syrah, and chardonnay.  

Here, wine is grown in ten subregions, created by the movement of rivers over thousands of years from the coast to the cooler inland Hawke’s Bay hills. The most significant subregion is the low-lying Gimlet Gravels. As the name suggests, the soils are gravel with a thin layer of fine sand and exposed river stones, which absorb heat throughout the day and radiate it back to the vines during cool, clear nights. To sample some of the best wine from this subregion, visit Mission Estate Winery(opens in new window), New Zealand’s oldest winery (est.1851).  

Hawke’s Bay wines have a riper and richer profile that is mirrored in the region’s food. Try Bistronomy’s(opens in new window) Chateau Briand beef with one of the region’s merlots and cabernet franc reds. If chicken is on the menu, pair this with a rich, creamy chardonnay or bold pinot gris. Cameron recommends the Paritua chardonnay(opens in new window), but if you opt for a red, the Paritua 21:12 red blend is exceptional.  

 

Day 9–11: Wairarapa

wairarapa

Wairarapa

Highlights

  • Cape Palliser
  • Dark Sky Reserve
  • Putangirua Pinnacles

Just an hour’s drive north of Wellington is the Wairarapa, an old farming region that is popular with weekend visitors who come for a dose of country life and a taste of the region’s wine and lamb.  

Wairarapa’s extreme temperature range produces complex and flavourful wines, such as, ultra-premium pinot noir with intense savoury characteristics and sauvignon blanc with excellent perfume and mineral textural palates.  

Head to Ata Rangi(opens in new window), a small, family-owned winery with an enviable reputation as one of the New World’s best producers of pinot noir. Cameron loves the Ata Rangi Célèbre for its fabulous bouquet and palate.  

Follow this with a visit to Poppies Vineyard(opens in new window), where seasonal platters are the perfect complement to Poppies’ wines. Their signature rosé and gorgeous pinot gris have a small but devoted cult following.  

Day 12–13: Nelson Tasman

nelson

Nelson Tasman

Highlights

  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Tasman Great Taste Trail
  • Heaphy Track

The picturesque Nelson Tasman region, found on northern tip of the South Island, is blessed with long sunshine-filled days and a sheltered coastal climate. 

First up, visit Neudorf Vineyards, one of the country’s top small wineries, renowned for its chardonnay and pinot noir. It produces organic wines according to an ethos of minimal intervention that extends from the vineyard to the cellar floor. The vines are in the relatively wet Moutere Hills subregion, which allows them to be dry farmed – so the only water the vines get is what mother nature provides. The effect is increased drought resistance but also a greater expression of the native terroir (soil and climate), as the vine’s roots are forced deeper into the earth to find water.  

Pairing white wines with red meats works superbly in this region, such as, sauvignon blanc with beef tartare or pinot gris with lamb. For more pairing suggestions, visit Hopgood’s & Co(opens in new window). This is one of Nelson’s top restaurants, boasting an excellent wine list and simple food with clever touches like truffle scented fries and sharp cheeses encased in a deep-fried zucchini flower and placed bed of sweetcorn agnolotti.  

Other wines on Cameron’s hit list are any chardonnay, pinot noir, and albarino from Moutere Hills(opens in new window) vineyard or the Sweet Agnes riesling from Seifried Estate(opens in new window).  

Day 14–16: Marlborough

marlborough

Marlborough

Highlights

  • Marine life
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Queen Charlotte Track Great Ride

While Marlborough is famed for its sauvignon blanc and for holding two-thirds of the country’s grape vines, it also has another gem in its backyard: the Marlborough Sounds. Full of golden sand and secluded coves, surprisingly, this stunning region is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets. Take a Cloudy Bay(opens in new window) Sip & Sail Away tour and you’ll be treated to a private wine tasting while sailing through the spectacular sounds on a 54-foot private yacht.  

Mussels are a mainstay on most Marlborough menus. They’re plucked from the local waters and steamed with white wine and garlic or baked into a hearty fritter. Visit Frank’s Oyster Bay and Eatery(opens in new window) for some of the region’s finest green-lipped mussels, along with sharing plates made with local ingredients. Try the tempura oyster tartare or the confit lamb shoulder with its lashings of sumac, red onion, and pistachio. 

Day 17–19: Day Central Otago

central-otago

Central Otago

Highlights

  • Historic mining towns
  • Gold panning
  • Breathtaking landscapes

More than 150 years ago, people from all over the world flocked to Central Otago in search of gold. These days, it’s the historic mining towns and stunning wineries that are the region’s greatest treasures. 

Otago’s extreme climate produces some of the world’s finest pinot noir, along with excellent chardonnay and aromatics. As New Zealand’s southern-most wine region, the climate is continental rather than maritime. And a large network of mountain ranges border distinctive subregions, which winemakers are harnessing to create wines with greater sub-regional expression.  

Established in 1864, Monte Christo(opens in new window) is the birthplace of Central Otago wine. Their organic wines are produced using minimal intervention from three estate vineyards in the subregions of Alexandra Basin, Bannockburn, and Pisa. They also have a beautifully restored cellar door and four onsite cottages available for overnight stays.  

Follow this with a visit to the spectacular Carrick Winery(opens in new window) and Restaurant, which offers locally sourced game and seafood – all of which are paired with an earthy-toned pinot noir.  

Day 20-21: Queenstown/Wānaka

queenstown

Queenstown

Highlights

  • Adventure tourism
  • Breathtaking landscapes
  • Skiing and snowboarding

The breathtaking region of Queenstown/Wānaka is known for its dramatic alpine ranges and thriving adventure tourism, but the region’s wineries offer a few adventures of their own.  

Overlooking the Southern Alps and Lake Wānaka is