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Wine has been produced in New Zealand since the arrival of the first European settlers, but in recent years the industry has rapidly evolved to take centre stage internationally.
The nation’s oldest winemaker, Mission Estate, has been producing wines in Hawke’s Bay since 1851, and today New Zealand is internationally lauded for producing wines of note. A wide range of landscapes (or terroir) makes for unparalleled variety, from Central Otago’s Pinot Noirs to Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blancs and Hawke’s Bay’s Merlots. In order to get the best out of New Zealand’s 10 significant wine growing regions, it’s a great idea to embark on a wine tour or book a personal wine guide.
If you’re exploring New Zealand’s vineyards independently, then sampling wines at the cellar door is a great way to spend the day – just make sure you have a nominated non-drinking driver. Self-guided and guided wine tours by bicycle also enjoy huge popularity. Martinborough is a great place to try this fun approach to wine tasting, as numerous vineyards are situated within easy reach of the town square so you don’t have to cycle too far! For the ultimate experience of wine growing in New Zealand, drive the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail from sun-drenched vineyards in Hawke’s Bay right down to Marlborough in the South Island! New Zealand’s major wine regions all have a particular climate and geology producing distinctive types of wine.
New Zealand not only produces world-class wines, but also brews excellent beers, ranging from boutique brews to major brands. Most breweries are open for tours and big names include the Tui HQ and Tui Brewery in North Island’s Mangatainoka and Dunedin’s Speight’s Brewery. Founders Brewery in Nelson, Australasia’s first certified organic brewery, is a highlight and there are dozens of craft breweries around the country. If you want to step it up a notch, you can visit one of New Zealand’s boutique distilleries, producing fruit brandies, liqueurs, schnapps and rum. The Prenzel Distilling Company has tasting rooms in Auckland, Wellington and Blenheim and retail outlets around the country. Do make sure, however, to appoint a designated non-drinking driver when heading out to sample New Zealand’s alcoholic delicacies.