Following Fiona contains affiliate links which may earn me a commission for any bookings at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. Check out the Privacy Policy for more information.

Wine Tasting In New Zealand: 8 Best Wine Regions

If you want to do some wine tasting on your visit to New Zealand, this is the guide you need.

New Zealand is one of the world’s finest producers of wines, however the vast majority of exported wine comes from just one region – Marlborough. 

There are several other regions that people outside of New Zealand may never have heard of that also make incredible wines on smaller scales. This guide will tell you about some of the other wine regions in New Zealand, and the best places for you to discover local wines when you arrive.

Such is the number of vineyards across the country, that you would see a significant amount of New Zealand if you were to design a trip based purely on exploring its wine regions (but perhaps not recommended from a health perspective…). Whatever your plans for New Zealand, winetasting is a highlight for many visitors.

Having done several wine-tasting tours as a solo traveller in New Zealand, it’s an experience I highly recommend.

New Zealand’s Wine Regions

Person in red top standing in front of rows of vines. Boats on the water in the background.

Marlborough

If you live outside of New Zealand or Australia and pick up a bottle of New Zealand wine at the supermarket, chances are it will be a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. 

This is the home of many of the country’s most widely known brands – Cloudy Bay, Brancott and Oyster Bay all have bases in the Marlborough region. Most of the wines made in this are Sauvignon Blanc, but you can also find other white wines such as Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

Marlborough sits at the northeastern tip of the South Island, and the best place to visit for wine is Blenheim. This town is surrounded by several wineries and there are several tour operators that will collect you from your Blenheim accommodation and drive you around Marlborough for a full day tour of beautiful scenery and excellent wine.

✅ Book a full day wine tasting tour from Blenheim here.

Marlborough is home to some of the most popular New Zealand wine tours, and for good reason. It’s also an ideal place to start a road trip around the South Island.

Central Otago

Central Otago is located towards the south end of the South Island. It is an absolutely stunning area to visit, surrounded by the Southern Alps mountain range and with many rivers and lakes throughout the area.

It is also the region in which Queenstown is located, one of the most important tourist destinations in New Zealand and particularly famous for adrenaline activities such as skydiving and bunjy jumping.

The mountains of Central Otago with clouds in the sky.

For oenophiles, Central Otago is also a busy area for winemaking and the southernmost commercial wine region in the world. The cooler climate produces especially good Pinot Noirs, but several white varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are also produced here. 

Gibbston is a particularly good place to go wine tasting. Gibbston Valley Winery itself has an excellent restaurant as well as a Cellar Door wine-tasting room. Other notable wineries around Gibbston include Peregrine Wines and Chard Farm. Other important wine areas in Central Otago include Bannockburn, Wanaka and Cromwell.

Queenstown is an excellent place to use as a base for winetasting and there are several excellent New Zealand wine tours that will take you around the region.

✅ Check out this full day Queenstown wine-tasting tour

Another option for wine tasting in Queenstown is The Winery, a venue in the centre of Queenstown that uses machines to dispense tasting portions of around 80 different wines. 

Auckland

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand and is situated towards the north of the North Island.

The most famous place for wine in the Auckland region is probably Waiheke Island. You can take a ferry from Auckland Harbour across to the island, and either join an island wine tour or hire some bikes to get around.

✅ Book your Waiheke Island wine tour here

Wineries on the island tend to operate in a more boutique style as there are quite a few of them in a relatively small area, and they tend to focus on red blends. 

Two significant Waiheke Island wineries are Man O War, with its onsite restaurant, and Mudbrick which even has cottages you can stay in. 

The wider Auckland region also has a few winemakers, including Kumeu River Winery to the northwest of Auckland city centre and several wineries in Makatana, about an hour north of Auckland.

Waiheke Island surrounded by bright blue water.

Hawke’s Bay

Although Hawke’s Bay isn’t widely known outside of New Zealand, it is home to the oldest vineyard in the country – Mission Estate Winery.

As well as Mission Estate, other significant wineries in the area include Craggy Range, Clearview Estate and Te Mata Estate.

Hawke’s Bay is on the east coast of the North Island and includes the cities of Hastings and Napier. Local wineries primarily produce Bordeaux-style red blends, Syrah and Chardonnay. Napier is a perfect place to use as a base for wine tasting in Hawke’s Bay. 

The city is known for its Art Deco architecture as many buildings were rebuilt following an earthquake in the area in 1931 during the height of Art Deco popularity.

There are several wine-tasting tours you can join from Napier to help you explore New Zealand’s second-largest wine region. 

✅ Book your wine tour from Napier here.

Martinborough

Martinborough lies to the east of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, at the southern end of the North Island. The region is a relatively small producer compared to Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago and so is often overlooked. 

Just over half of the wine produced in Martinborough is Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc is the second most commonly produced wine in the area. Wine tours are available both from Wellington and the town of Martinborough. 

If you are in Wellington for a few days and want to see the wider region then a wine-tasting tour of Martinborough is worth considering. 

Couple toasting glasses at sunset wine tasting New Zealand

Northland

As you might expect, Northland is at the northern tip of the North Island. Most tourists don’t make it to this area. The majority of visitors to New Zealand fly into Auckland and then make their way south. Northland is home to some locations of particular importance to the Maori people, such as Waitangi and Cape Reinga. 

In terms of wine, there are several areas around Northland with excellent wineries. Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Gris are the primary wines produced in this region.

The climate in Northland is much warmer than areas such as Central Otago and so produces wines that are quite distinct from those in the southern regions of New Zealand. 

The Bay of Islands is perhaps the best place to visit in the Northland region, thanks to its beautiful scenery, water activities, dolphin watching and of course several wineries nearby. Kainui Road and Marsden Estate are both popular vineyards near the Bay of Islands. 

Gisborne

Gisborne sits north of Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of the North Island. It’s an area that many visitors skip, but for wine enthusiasts, this small region may be worth a visit.

Like many areas in New Zealand it produces a lot of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, but unusually it is also known for Gewürztraminer.

Town sitting on waterfront with hills behind it.

Nelson

Nelson sits very close to Marlborough at the north-west tip of the South Island, but is a separate district. Some wine tours in Nelson include wineries in Marlborough, but there enough wineries for Nelson to stand alone. Neudorf Vineyards, Moutere Hills and Rimu Grove are all excellent choices. 

Most of the wine produced in the area is Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Nelson is also popular for outdoor activities and Abel Tasman National Park. 

Final Thoughts

New Zealand is a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts. The country may only produce about 1% of the world’s wine, but with its diverse climates and fertile soils New Zealand makes some of the world’s finest wines.

Wine tasting in New Zealand is not just about sipping on a variety of wines, but it’s also an opportunity to explore the stunning vineyards and picturesque landscapes that make up this beautiful country. 

Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or a curious beginner, there’s something for everyone in New Zealand’s wine scene. So, pack your bags, grab a glass and embark on a journey of discovery as you sample some of the best wines that New Zealand has to offer.

Rows of vines in front of mountains of a cloudy day.

FAQs

What Is The Legal Drinking Age in New Zealand?

You must be 18 years or over to purchase alcohol.

What Is The Drink Driving Limit In New Zealand?

For drivers under the age of 20, there is a zero limit. For those 20 and over the limit is 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, or 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. If you are planning to go wine tasting the safest option is to join a tour.

Can I Join A Wine Tasting Tour Alone?

Most wine tasting tours in New Zealand are group activities that solo travellers are welcome to join. If you are travelling alone, a winetasting day tour is a wonderful chance to get to know people with a similar interest.

What If I Don’t Know Anything About Wine?

That’s ok! I have done several wine tours in New Zealand and they have all been relaxed, friendly, judgement-free experiences. Don’t be put off, this is all about learning what you like.


14 Day New Zealand Itinerary

Ultimate Picton to Queenstown Road Trip

Best Day Trips from Queenstown

Christchurch to Auckland Road Trip

Wine Tasting in Seattle, USA

Please Share!