Wineries, sunshine and amazing gannet colonies
Taste your way through three significant wine regions on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.
Enjoy stunning scenery, beautiful forest parks, buzzing nightlife and indulgent food experiences as you journey from Hawke's Bay in the North Island to Marlborough in the South Island - with stops in Wairarapa and Wellington along the way.
It’s not called the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail for nothing.
Napier and its sister town Hastings have some of the finest Art Deco architecture in the world, thanks to a major rebuild following the devastating 1931 earthquake. The vineyards of Hawke’s Bay are all within easy reach – make your own way around by car, book a tour, or opt for a cycle the vines experience. Pick up a winery map from the local i-SITE Visitor Information Centre, and be sure to enjoy lunch at one of the fine winery restaurants.
Other attractions include the Earthquake Exhibition and Nga Tukemata (an exhibition that celebrates Maori history on the East Coast) at the museum and the gannet colony and golf course at Cape Kidnappers.
Pūkaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre is an essential stop on your way to Wairarapa today. See wild birds such as the titipounamu (rifleman), kārearea (New Zealand falcon) and the kererū (wood pigeon). You may also see advocacy birds like Kahurangi the kōkako.
Wairarapa is an eclectic mix of interesting towns. In Carterton, you'll find a large artistic community and nearby Stonehenge Aotearoa - a working replica of England famous henge. Greytown is a Victorian country village with a mix of boutique and antique stores. Martinborough features over 20 wineries, most within cycling and walking distance of the village square. Some of New Zealand’s best pinot noir comes from the town’s boutique vineyards, so it’s not surprising that Wairarapa is a popular destination for wine lovers.
On your way to Wellington, stop in Featherston, home to the world’s only Fell Engine. A must-do is C’est Cheese, an artisan cheese shop filled with cheese from around the country and a great range of deli treats.
The journey over the Remutaka Range offers great views in every direction.
Wellington is compact, cultured and full of character. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot. Enjoy cafes, restaurants and an array of museums. Dance, theatre and musical performances are a Wellington speciality. As New Zealand’s capital, this city is rich in political history.
The passage across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world. The cruise-style ferry linking New Zealand's North and South islands takes just over 3 hours. Highlights along the way include the Red Rocks seal colony, Tory Channel, Cook’s Lookout and the beautiful coves of the Sounds.
The picturesque seaside town of Picton is the South Island base for the ferry service. It’s also the gateway to the marine, forest and island attractions of the Marlborough Sounds. Museums and interesting walks will keep you entertained while you’re here. If you have extra time, you might like to walk or cycle the famous Queen Charlotte Track.
The short drive to Blenheim takes you across the Wairau Plains past vineyards and wineries. There are more than 20 wineries within driving distance of Blenheim. Be sure to try the Marlborough region's famous Sauvignon Blanc.
In Blenheim itself, you’ll find a great selection of cafes, restaurants, shops and golf courses. Character accommodation is another Blenheim delight – everything from homestays to boutique hotels. Nearby Havelock is known for its Greenshell Mussels – a must for seafood lovers.
After your Classic New Zealand Wine Trail adventure, you may like to continue exploring the South Island – Central Otago is another wine region worth visiting.