While this route has a food and wine focus, you'll also find plenty of culture, adventure and scenery along the way, from Hawke’s Bay down to Marlborough.
Find country scenery, forest parks, wildlife encounters and indulgent food experiences while you journey from Hawke’s Bay in the North Island to Marlborough in the South Island. Taste your way through three significant wine regions, discover the cultural entertainments of Wellington city and enjoy the rural hospitality of Tararua, famous for its iconic brewery.
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is a signposted 380km (240 mile) self-drive touring route that leads travellers off the beaten track. Travel through five of New Zealand’;s most interesting and scenic regions, including three major wine growing areas that account for more than 70% of the country’;s wine production.
While the main focus of the journey is wine and food, the route also serves up all kinds of cultural and adventure experiences.
It’s not called the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail for nothing! On this touring route you’ll have the opportunity to taste and shop at more than 120 cellar doors, as well as a multitude of vineyard restaurants and cafés. Hawke’s Bay is the land of robust cabernet sauvignon and merlot; in Wairarapa, pinot noir gets star billing; Marlborough is blockbuster sauvignon blanc country.
Another appealing aspect of this journey is the chance to visit a variety of provincial towns and cities. Hastings and Napier have some of the finest Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture in the world, courtesy of a major rebuild following a catastrophic earthquake in 1931. You'll also find an Art Deco masterpiece in the middle of Tararua’s lush countryside - the Tui brewery’;s brick brewing tower isn’;t in use today, but it marks the spot for brewery tours and a beer or two.
Wine, food and music are three of the happiest words in the world, as any gourmand would agree. Around the Wairarapa region there are charming historic townships to discover - Greytown, Featherston, Carterton and Martinborough. In the South Island you can explore the port town of Picton, where life revolves around the sea. Marlborough’s main centre is Blenheim, a friendly town that looks after the local wine industry with great restaurants and interesting places to stay (you can even stay in a convent). Recently, a new museum opened in Blenheim - it houses the world’s largest private collection of WWI aircraft.
The most urban element of the trail is Wellington, New Zealand's capital city. You can browse the exhibits at Te Papa, the national museum; catch a cable car to the botanic gardens and observatory; stroll around Oriental Parade to Mount Victoria; and see the extraordinary Beehive, the centre of political power in New Zealand.
Last but not least, the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail can show you some fascinating wildlife. Hawke’s Bay has the world’s largest mainland gannet colony. In Tararua you can hike in the forest park or visit the Mount Bruce wildlife centre. And if you need to burn off some calories, hiking, biking or kayaking the beautiful Queen Charlotte Track is one of Marlborough’s most satisfying adventures.