It goes without saying that New Zealand is one of the most naturally scenic destinations in the world. With dramatic settings and an equally dramatic climate, this wonderland is also a haven for wine-growers (and couples wanting to sip something delightful while admiring the scenery). Keen to sample the best wine trails that New Zealand has to offer? Add these three fantastic spots to your itinerary…
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At the top of New Zealand's South Island, Marlborough is a bit of a go-to for wineries. And for good reason. With warm days and cool nights providing the grapes here with a unique maturing environment, this magnificent region is known for its vibrant and crisp wines – Sauvignon Blanc-lovers, this is the place for you.
Top spots to check out while in the area? With 30 sensational wineries within a 24-kilometre circuit (hire a bike for an unforgettable cellar door-hopping experience), the small township of Renwick is a must-visit. Or, for something totally luxurious, treat yourselves to a seafood-and-wine cruise along the pristine Marlborough Sounds. You'll spot island sanctuaries, secluded bays, historic sights, dolphins and seals while feasting on fresh salmon and mussels paired with world-class Sauvignon Blanc – a wonderful way to pass the time, no?
Further down the South Island is another acclaimed spot, Central Otago. Here, early settlers planted the region's first vines in 1864 – needless to say, wine production is an art the locals have now mastered. Pinot Noir is the drop of choice in Central Otago, with some of New Zealand's best being produced here. But if you're more of a white wine-drinker, there's also plenty of exquisite Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling for you to enjoy. And you really should.
To experience the region's best for yourselves, start your gourmet adventure by visiting the majestic Lake Wanaka and driving (or cycling) through to Cromwell and Bannockburn. Along the way, you'll discover a slew of fabulous wineries, including Rippon Vineyard (Wanaka), Mt Difficulty (Bannockburn) and Quartz Reef (Cromwell).
Arguably one of New Zealand's most iconic and beautiful spots, Waiheke Island on the North Island is brimming with romance. Just a 40-minute scenic ferry ride from Auckland, this picture-perfect island is home to 20 wineries, plus a brilliant collection of renowned restaurants with water views. Red wines dominate the wine list here, with Merlot and Syrah the most popularly produced varietals available. For something a little lighter, there's also plenty of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris to sample.
What makes Waiheke Island such an outstanding wine destination is its matching of top-quality wine with terrific dining and breathtaking views. Ticking all three boxes, Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant will impress couples with its manicured gardens, wine tastings and degustation menu. Other incredible options include Cable Bay Vineyards, Stonyridge Vineyard, Te Motu Vineyard and Casita Miro.
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Image credits: www.facebook.com/Mudbrickvineyard/, Kieran Scott and Miles Holden