New Zealand Winery Visit Recommendations

I am in the process of planning a New Zealand trip for early 2025 and it looks like we potentially have time for cellar door visits in Matakana, Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago. Hoping for recommendations from the board on where to visit. We prefer smaller, proprietor run wineries to the big corporate ones. Thanks for any help.

There will be few big corporate operations there, so you’ll have a vast array of choices.

Whilst near Hawkes Bay, do find some time to spend in Napier. Levelled almost 100 years ago, when it was rebuilt, it was done so in the style of the time - Art Deco, and much has survived the intervening period. It’s quite striking.

One winery that should be interesting to visit is Mission. It’s still run by a religious order, yet there is real quality in the wines (especially the Jewelstone range).

Thanks Ian. Napier is on the planned itinerary. Will check out Mission.

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There are a couple of older threads already on here with good recs. Though, they might need to be updated.

Hi Jud

I just made a post; New Zealand Trip Report April '24
And i used Jon Philips’ thread for inspiration; New Zealand Report: South Island, November 2022

Besides i think @brodie_thomson will have some great ideas.

Overall, with more reflection, if I could do it over again, I’d probably research the styles and producers a bit more before going. There’s a whole world of winemaking between Felton Road, Mt. Difficulty and people like Luta, or Sato, and they all deserve such a careful reading in their own way, and that’s where i’d plan from, if you know what i mean. Find and visit the style you prefer.

If i’d do it over again, i’d visit Rippon purely for the view and ask if you can walk down to the lake, so you can walk through their vineyards. I’d visit Prophets Rock, Sato, Cloudy Bay, Valli and Jenny Dobson. My preference is clearly in the low-intervention camp.

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I would add Burn Cottage with a recent fun tasting amongst the vines of the Burn Cottage vineyard, and the Rippon Mature Vine 2019 is excellent

Hi Jud,

To give you the best advice, can you give some extra info in your trip please?

How long will you be in NZ?
Have you decided on time in Nth Island vs Sth Island (I always recommend 70% in Sth Island).
Is this a wine based vacation or is it a “normal” sightseeing type holiday with some wine related activities squeezed in?
Are the others coming with you as interested in wine as you are?

With this context, there a lots of options and choices and recomendations that can be made.

Driving in NZ is slower and requires more attention than you may be used to. Narrow windy and hilly roads with limited abIlity to pass slower vehicles is the norm. There a few faster sections of motorways but only close to the bigger cities. The time to get from A to B will be longer than you might expect. So you need to allow more time to get around. Also you will want to stop and take photos quite often depending on where you are the country.

I would avoid all wineries in the greater Auckland area. They are all too close to Auckland and so get a lot of cellar door traffic and this makes the cellar door experience not great. The only world class winery in Auckland region is Kumeu River. They make amazing single vineyard Chardonnays and it is a family run business. But even so not much of a cellar door experience.

For me the best two Pinot Noir regions in NZ are Martinborough and Nth Canterbury. But then I prefer the lighter more gentle styles. Central Otago mostly produces darker riper richer styles of Pinot that are very good if you like them that way.

Anyway let me know what your overall itinerary is at this stage and we can work from there.

Cheers Brodie

After 6 weeks touring… Felton Road is a great experience, as is Destiny Bay. Both require advance reservations, at Destiny Bay you need to indicate an interest in their “wine Club”, which incidentally is a great deal, and the best experience we have had in a long time.

Coal Pit probably had our favorite NZ Pinot and SB, and it just up the road from Felton.

Brodie - thank you so much for the thoughtful response and all the other responses on the the thread. We are about a 50/50 split between the islands at the moment, in part because I am going to play Cape Kidnappers and Te Airi. It is just my wife and I and our main focus is seeing some of the great scenic areas of the beautiful country as well as some cultural stops. We both love wine country and would like to fit a few days in. We are going to be hiring a guide/driver as I remember from my last trip that driving would be challenging. Some great suggestions so far in the thread.

OK - so here is my “ideal” itinerary / direction of travel in NZ. I am a geologist so this itinerary is design to maximize the amazing landscapes and different regions in NZ. This not what most folks do (sadly).

  1. Fly into Akl, get connecting flight to Christchurch

  2. Pick up hire car in Chch and drive north to Kaikoura / Malborough

  3. Drive west and then south down the West Coast all the way to Haast

  4. Cross over to Wanaka from Haast then onto Arrowtown and Queenstown

  5. Drive from Queesntown to Christchurch via Sthern Alps and Mt Cook

  6. Fly from Chch to Wellington, pick up hire care in Wellington

  7. Drive to Wairarapa and then onto Hawkes Bay

  8. from Hawkes Bay to go Taupo then drive to Tongariro National Park

  9. Then on to Rotorua area and on to Auckland via Matamata (Hobbiton)

This gives you the most incredible landscape experiences possible. This is about a minimum 3 week itinerary.

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Thank you Brodie