Following State Highway 2, the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail traces its way over a 380 kilometre route from Napier on the North Island's central east coast, to Blenheim, in the Marlborough district, at the top of the South Island.
Visiting New Zealand's three major wine growing regions (Marlborough, Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay) the Trail reveals the various unique vintages for which each region is famous.
The reds and chardonnays of Hawke’s Bay will tempt your palet. The Wairarapa's pinot noir, pinot gris and classy cafes and restaurants will leave you wanting more, and Wellington's almost endless supply of eateries will spoil you for choice.
And to top things off, the Marlborough district's world class sauvignon blanc is the perfect partner for the region's fresh local seafood.
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail starts in Napier, which is around 6 hours drive, or a 1 hour flight south east from Auckland.
The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is a signposted route for its entire length, so just follow the "bunch of grapes" along State Highway 2.
You can view a route map opposite or download a pdf copy HERE.
You can hire your car in Auckland when you arrive at the airport. All of the major brands are represented (see search box below for options and best prices).
Many car hire companies don't allow you to take your car from the North Island to the South Island on the Interislander ferry.
You may need to drop your car off at the ferry terminal in Wellington and organise a separate hire from Picton for when you arrive on the South Island.
We recommend you make both bookings at the same time. In peak periods vehicle availability may be restricted, so please check the hire conditions and availability when you make your booking.
See what's available and make your reservations
Day 1 & 2 Napier and Hawke's Bay
Your Classic New Zealand Wine Trail adventure begins in the beautiful Hawke's Bay region.
Famous for its rich reds and chardonnays, the region is packed with delightful cellar doors and cafes. Napier, the largest town in the region is a beautiful seaside community, and is well know for its art deco architecture. Napier is also home to the National Aquarium of New Zealand, and the highly rated Cape Kidnappers golf course.
* Take an organized wine tour
* Take a city tour of Napier and experience the art deco wonders of the city
* spend a day or half day following the Food Trail (maps available from any Hawke's Bay isite Visitor's Centre). Visit the local producers of cheese, fruit, olives, honey, chocolate and wines
* Experience the delights of the only chocolate museum south of the equator at the Silky Oak Chocolate Company
* Visit the New Zealand Wine Centre where you can experience a simulated wine tour of the region
* The daily tours of the Church Road Wine Museum take you through the history of wine making
* Have a round of golf at the challenging Cape Kidnappers
* Try premium ciders and ales at the Filter Room and Cider Tree Cafe
* Sample local fruits and learn about the growing process at Pernel Fruitworld
* Visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand
* Tour the Village Press Olivery and enjoy wine and cheese at their epicurean centre
* Prenzel on the Bay has more than mouth watering liqueurs and fruit schnapps, together with a range of vinaigrettes, oils and toppings
* Take a cooking class at Breckenridge Lodge
* Pick your own strawberries at Havelock North's Strawberry Patch
Day 3 Hawke's Bay to Wairarapa
Next stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is the Wairarapa region.
There's lots to see and do in the region.
* Take a tour of the historic Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka, and sample their range of ales
* Browse Greytown's antique stores and galleries and satisfy your sweet tooth at Schoc, chocolate shop
* Sample the range of French pastries and breads at The French Baker.
Day 4 Wairarapa
* Sample the many boutique wineries and specialist food producers in Gladstone, Masterton, Martinborough and Greytown
* Tour the Martinborough Wine Centre and sample a large range of local wines
* Visit Greytown's Wairarapa Wine Centre for a peek at the local wine industry and some fine local wines
* All things olive at Olivo in Martinborough. Learn about olive oil production and sample a range of oils
* Kingsmeade Cheese have a range of delicious sheep's milk cheese
Day 5 Wairarapa to Wellington
Depending on your departure point, it's a leisurely 1 to 2 hour drive to Wellington.
Day 6 & 7 Wellington
Welcome to Wellington, the Nation's capital and cultural hub.
With a thriving cafe culture Wellington offers a smorgasboard of dining options.
* Browse the downtown and waterfront galleries, shops and cafes
* New Zealand's National museum, Te Papa Tongarewa on the waterfront is an amazing place to spend at least a half day.
Full of unique displays and interactive exhibits, Te Papa offers a great way to learn about New Zealand history and culture. A visit to Te Papa is highly recommended.
You can learn more about guided tours here.
* Take a ride on Wellington's iconic cable car for stunning views over the city
* Sample local brews on a Wild About Wellington Boutique Beer Tasting Tour
* Wellington is home to some of the nation's best chefs. Take the time to experience some of the finest local quisine and wines available at the numerous restaurants in the city
* Like ice cream? Kaffe Eis on Oriental Parade has more than thirty varieties
* Jackson Street in Petone is a hub containing several respected restaurants like Ontrays, Cultured, Gusto and La Bella Italia, and several coffee roasters
* Take a drive and explore the many bays and beaches in the area
* Visit the Weta Caves Workshop and learn about the work of Peter Jackson and friends
Day 8 Wellington to Marlborough
The Marlborough district is perhaps the highlight of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.
Flights are available from Wellington to Blenheim, the Marlborough district's largest town. However a much more enjoyable way to travel is on board the Inter Island ferry, which takes 3 to 4 hours to make the crossing of Cook Strait to Picton in the Marlborough Sounds.
* The Inter Island Ferry from Wellington to Picton is one of the World's great ferry trips. For a memorable experience, take the Kaitaki Plus option, where you enjoy a private lounge with complimentary wine, beer, and finger food.
* Enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the many local wineries
* During summer, cruise the Marlborough Sounds and enjoy fresh local seafood and wines. Take the Cougar Line's Salmon and Sav cruise from Queen Charlotte Sound, or from Havelock, join the Greenshell Mussel Cruise
Days 9 & 10 Marlborough
* The Marlborough district is New Zealand's largest wine growing region. With dozens of wineries, there are ample opportunities to sample the region's famous Sauvignon Blanc
* Take a personal food tour and see why the region is known as the Gourmet Province of New Zealand. There are a wide range of half and full day tours available. Or for something different, hire a bike and cycle between wineries
* Havelock is known as the Greenshell Mussel Capital of The World. Take the time to visit for some fresh local seafood
* Take a cheese making course at Sherrington Grange
* Visit Herzog and take a gourmet cooking class
* See local chocolate artists at work at the Makana chocolate factory on Rapaura Road
* Whilst at Rapaura Rd, visit the Vines Village and try the locally produced olive oils and liqueurs at Prenzel
* Sample a range of fruits from local roadside stalls, including berries, stone fruit and cherries
The Perfect Way To Finish Your Classic New Zealand Wine Trail Tour
Christchurch, home to an international airport, is your likely departure point from New Zealand, and is around 4 hours drive south of the Marlborough region.
Take a few days to make the trip as there are two beautiful "must see" towns along the way.
Hanmer Springs is home to the famous hot pools complex, and is a great place to spend a night en route to Christchurch.
The other "must see" is the stunning seaside resort of Kaikoura. Well known for its roadside seal colonies and whale watch tours, Kaikoura is a spectacular location, particularly in the cooler months when the surrounding peaks are covered in snow.
Or, if you want to extend your holiday a little longer, why not combine your journey with one of our South Island itineraries.
We hope that you can come and visit New Zealand and experience the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.
For more information you can visit the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail official web site HERE.