A Guide To The Best New Zealand Winery Tours: North & South Islands

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Visiting New Zealand? The land of kiwi birds, breathtaking landscape, and some of the world’s best wines. Wineries are scattered throughout the country, with incredible New Zealand winery tours on both the North and South Island. It doesn’t matter where you go though because there is a new winery tour for everyone’s tastes! Even if you are visiting New Zealand with kids, you can still enjoy a winery tour during your New Zealand travels.

There are many different tours on offer in both North and South Island, so there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes. But first, let’s take a quick look at the type of wines you can expect to find in New Zealand’s different winery regions.

new zealand wine tasting tour

Wine Regions Of New Zealand

Both the North and South Island of New Zealand have distinct wine regions that are perfect for visiting many wineries in close proximity. Each of these wine regions has its own specialities, so it’s worth doing some research first.

With over 500 wineries in New Zealand, it helps to group them by region.

The vast majority of the NZ wine regions fall along the East coast of New Zealand.

Some of the more popular wine regions on both islands from North to South are:

  • Northland – With the regions warmer climate allowing the fruit to ripen sooner, you will find tropical Chardonnays, Pinot Gris and vibrant Viogniers in the white wine varieties. For their red wines, there are spicy Syrahs, Cabernet and Merlot blends, Pinotages and Chambourcin.
  • Auckland – As one of New Zealand’s oldest wine regions, in Auckland and Waiheke Island, you will find intense Red blends plus world-class Chardonnay varieties. Waiheke Island is also well known for its Syrah.
  • Waikato and Bay of Plenty – In this region, you will find wine varieties mostly focused on Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Gisborne – Chardonnay dominates this region, although you will also find a wide range of fruit-flavoured wines, with red and white varieties both worth exploring.
  • Hawke’s Bay – NZ’s second-largest wine region, best known for its Red Blends and Chardonnay, but also consistently good aromatic whites and Syrah.
  • Wairarapa – If you’re looking for diversity, here you will find stand out Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Aromatics, Chardonnay, Syrah and dessert wines all in one boutique vineyards region. 
  • Nelson – At the tip of the South Island, you will find this sheltered boutique wine region producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and aromatics plus plenty of new varieties emerging.
  • Marlborough – One of New Zealand’s most recognised wine regions internationally, most known for Sauvignon Blanc.
  • North Canterbury – The cool, dry climate creates a long growing season, making this wine region perfect for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and fine aromatic wines.
  • Waitaki – Here you will find a predominance of Pinot Noir alongside aromatic white wines such as Pinot Gris and Riesling.
  • Central Otago – World-renowned Pinot Grigio varieties, as well as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

New Zealand Winery Tours

New Zealand is renowned for its high-quality wines and the best way to experience this new world wonder is through a New Zealand winery tour. Taking a tour means you can sit back and enjoy the day without worrying about who’s driving or getting lost along the winding roads.

But, you don’t have to take a tour if you have your own transport. Most wineries in New Zealand are open to the public so you can pop in on your way to your next NZ road trip stop!

The Best North Island Wineries

When visiting New Zealand’s North Island, there is no shortage of winery tours, wine tastings and beautiful wineries to visit. The North Island has a larger popular and warmer climate than the South Island.

On the North Island, you will find the regions of Northland, Auckland and Waiheke Island, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa, taking you the length of the island.

Some of the top North Island wineries offer vineyard and cellar door tours, or all-inclusive experiences of wine tasting and food matching with a range of local produce.

Auckland & Waiheke Island Wine Tours

If you’re looking to go wine tasting in Auckland or in the surrounding regions, there are plenty of winery tours that leave from the North Island capital.

As New Zealand’s largest city and a popular weekend destination for many visitors, it is always great to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city to explore the beautiful scenery nearby on an Auckland day trip. And wineries are just as perfect for those rainy days in Auckland too!

Here are some of the best wine tours and experiences from Auckland:

Waiheke Island Premium Food & Wine Tour with Platter Lunch

Discover the flavours of Waiheke Island on a fully-guided gourmet food and wine tour! Journey your own way from Auckland on the 35-minute ferry ride over to Matiatia Wharf on this lovely island, where you will be greeted by one of their knowledgeable guides.

You will also enjoy a delicious platter lunch – with cold meats, seafood, bread and dips at one of Waiheke’s top vineyards before tasting some great wines (all included in price).

On the day, you will visit an award-winning olive oil mill and two vineyards, with each offering a range of gourmet tastings to accompany their wines, such as oysters straight from Te Matuku Bay, wild honey or artisan cheeses.

Gourmet Wine and Food Downtown Walking Tour in Auckland

Taste your way from one of Auckland’s top restaurants to the next on this gourmet food and wine tour. Together with an expert guide, seek out downtown Auckland’s finest-and often hard to find foodie hotspots on foot.

Taste a variety of foods with influences from Māori, European, Asian or Pacific Islander flavours before savouring award-winning wines from around New Zealand. You also gain insight into how the area has evolved over time and its colonial history (all while tasting delicious dishes).

Numbers are limited to 10 people on this tour so that everyone can enjoy their small group experience!

Villa Maria Wine Tour

On this 3.5-hour winemaking experience from Auckland, you’ll visit the lush vineyards of Villa Maria Estate Winery which are nestled beneath mighty volcano on the Ihimatao Peninsula. Explore the fields with your guide and learn about different grape varieties thriving thanks to the fertile soils in the region.

You will gain insight into the modern working processes of a New Zealand winery by touring their estate and tasting award-winning wines!

Wineries, Honey and Black Sand Beaches from Auckland

New Zealand is renowned for its scenic landscape, and this tour will allow you to experience some of the best. Join your guide on a 5.5-hour winery and black sand beach trip from Auckland where you will visit Kumeu River Winery to learn of New Zealand’s early winemaking pioneers.

You will also visit Coopers Creek and Matua wineries to sample award-winning wines, such as pinot Gris, gewürztraminer or pinot noir grape varietals before lunch at Provenance Matua Valley eatery featuring local Manuka honey in the sampling of delicious dishes.

Afterwards, explore Muriwai Beach, known for its volcanic black sands where the west coast meets the Tasman Sea. Here you will also see the Muriwai Gannet Colony with magnificent coastal views.

Piha and Karekare Rainforest Wine Tour from Auckland

A full day of exploring West Auckland awaits you on this tour. Kick off your trip with wine tasting in Henderson Valley, then continue to the Waitakere Ranges with more than 40,000 acres (16,000 hectares) of coastline and forest awaits!

Get elevated views from Arataki Visitor Centre before making your way to black-sand beaches at Piha and Karekare and the chance to get up close with Karekaere Waterfalls along the way.

Finish off by enjoying a tasty lunch included in the price while sampling more wines at Soljans Estate Winery, followed by Westbrook Winery before heading home satisfied after an amazing adventure through the natural beauty that is New Zealand’s west coast.

Napier & Hawke’s Bay Wine Tours

If you’re looking to taste some of the best wines in NZ, then head south and check out what Hawkes Bay has on offer. Set within a region abundant with vineyards – it’s easy for anyone to find their new favourite tipple!

Napier is one of the best places to stay if you’re looking to explore the Hawke’s Bay wine region, with several wine tours from Napier available.

Whether you want an intimate wine tasting experience or something more social, here are some great options for Hawke’s Bay wine tours:

Gourmet Lunch and Wine Tour From Napier

mission estate winery in napier

Enjoy a gourmet lunch experience with wine at Mission Estate Restaurant where you will be offered 3 red and 3 white wines throughout this experience, with Chardonnay being the leading white wine, and Merlot and associate Bordeaux blends as the popular reds in the region.

Afterwards, head to Urban Winery and Linden Estate for wine tastings, before concluding your day out with cheese, biscuits, and wine at a private vineyard location.

Hawke’s Bay Half-Day Food and Drink Tour by Vintage Car

Climb aboard a vintage car to experience the scenic beauty of Hawke’s Bay from an entirely new perspective on this 4-hour tour. From Napier, journey through the countryside and taste extraordinary food and drink while learning about unique features in the region as you go!

Indulge your sweet tooth with some freshly made chocolates and enjoy a platter of the finest local produce available along the way.

This is a truely unique winery tour experience and a perfect experience gift for car enthusiasts as well!

Afternoon Wine Tour with Optional Craft Beer Tasting

Imagine tasting delicious wines in New Zealand’s wine country, surrounded by lush grapevines and an endless view of the Pacific Ocean. Take a tour on your way to Hawke’s Bay for some more world-famous wineries!

You will visit Mission Estate, enjoying the views from their 2-storey Victorian mansion established in 1851. Then move onto French-owned Church Road Winery. Next stop, Urban Winery located inside the National Tobacco building which has art nouveau architecture. This is a seated tasting followed by a guided tour of their barrel hall and their amazing ‘Golden Egg’.

Then, take a 15-minute drive past the orchards and vineyards of Esk Valley, arriving at Linden Estate. There you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy some complimentary New Zealand cheeses before being treated with their own interpretation of various wines from around the world!

Cape Winery Cycle Tour – 6 Wineries Self-Guided

Explore the Hawke’s Bay wine region on bicycle! With this tour, you will explore more than 16 kilometres (10 miles) of scenic pathways at your own pace. Stop in to some of the best wine producers in the region and opt for a shuttle pickup service if you need help carrying all your purchased wine bottles on the way back.

This tour is perfect for enjoying the great outdoors, and can depart either from Hawke’s Bay or as a pick up service from Napier.

Stop in for wine tastings at lack Barn Vineyards, Te Mata Estate Winery & Vineyards, Origin Earth Artisan Cheese Factory, Clearview Estate Winery, Elephant Hill and Te Awanga Estate Vineyard during your self-guided New Zealand winery bike tour.

The Best South Island Wineries and Tours

Marlborough region winery

The region is home to five major wine regions in New Zealand: Marlborough, Central Otago, Nelson, North Canterbury and Waitaki.

There are some great New Zealand winery tours in the South Island, including Central Otago’s Gibbston Valley which has been highly praised for its large-scale wineries and boutique labels.

It is also home to the most famous wine region in New Zealand, Marlborough! Marlborough is where you will find New Zealand’s largest vineyard, Brancott Wines, formerly known as Montana.

Marlborough Wine Tours

The first stop for your New Zealand winery tours should be a trip up north, where you’ll find the Marlborough wine region and its world-class wine. This area is world-famous for Sauvignon Blanc, but it produces a range of other wines and styles to suit tastes.

Most Marlborough wine tours leave from Blenheim or Picton, however if you are looking for an experience that you can make your own way to, this is a great option:

3-Course Lunch & Wine Pairing at Cloudy Bay

The Cloudy Bay Vineyards menu is sure to impress your taste buds. You will be treated to a 3-course lunch that changes according to the seasonal availability of the best local produce from the Marlborough region. Each course is accompanied by a glass of wine selected especially for you! Enjoy the great views over the vineyard and countryside as you dine. This winery experience takes around 2 hours and does not include transport.

Blenheim Wine Tours

Blenheim, which sits on the banks of the Wairau River, is a popular wine destination in the Marlborough region. This is a great place to base yourself if you plan on exploring and sampling the wines in the region.

Blenheim has seen something of an explosion when it comes to new wineries opening their doors since 2010. As such, it has become a great starting point for many winery tours through the Malborough region.

Here are some of the best Marlborough winery tours from Blenheim:

Full-Day Wine and Seafood Tour with Cruise

wine glass and meal at new zealand winery tour

Come and experience the best of Marlborough with this fantastic day tour! You’ll visit two wineries in the morning, stop for a seafood lunch in a waterside village on the shores of the Marlborough Sounds, then spend the afternoon experiencing the natural beauty of Queen Charlotte Sound, and learning about its rich history while cruising aboard a luxury boat. Visit salmon farms to see how one local industry is thriving before being dropped back at your hotel.

This tour has the option of hotel pick up from either Blenheim or with an added surcharge, from Picton.

Marlborough Wines and Aviation Day Tour

You’ll have a chance to learn about aviation while touring an airplane museum filled with fascinating historic aircrafts that will take you back in time! Once finished admiring these machines of olden days, sample wines produced in the Marlborough vineyards.

You will also get the chance to sample gourmet chocolate, with a stop at a chocolate factory.

Marlborough Wine, Gourmet and Scenic Tour

Enjoy a day of tasting and exploring the Marlborough wine region in New Zealand, where you can meet winemakers in their rustic vineyards. You’ll be sure to get some pointers on how best to pair wines with food as well!

Stop for seasonal produce (December through February) of juicy strawberries, cherries, apricots and nectarine and other local produce, such as cheese, Manuka honey and black garlic, plus a stop at the Makana Confections Boutique Chocolate Factory. This small-group tour offers the flexibility of a private tour, making it a great choice for an intimate day of exploring the region.

Marlborough Half-Day Wine Tour

The scenic beauty of Marlborough vineyards is waiting to be explored with a small-group tour. Your guide will share insight into the region’s history and world-famous wines, as you visit five cellar doors on this easygoing trip from renowned internationally branded wineries to boutique family-run winemakers.

The itinerary has the flexibility to accommodate your particular requests for certain wineries along the way, depending on the size and preference of the group! This tour is perfect if you only in the region for a short time and want to maximise your winery visits.

Christchurch Wine Tours

Christchurch is a great city for families to visit, with plenty of fun things to do and that includes taking a winery tour from Christchurch! This is a great way to get out of the city for some fresh air and explore one of NZ’s most productive wine regions.

You can easily visit the Waipara and North Canterbury wine regions from Christchurch, or take a longer day trip to some of the other winery regions on the Sout island.

Here are some of the best Christchurch wine tours that depart from the city:

Waipara Wine Trail Tour from Christchurch

Take a tour of four boutique wineries with wine-tasting in North Canterbury on this half-day tour! Depart from Christchurch in the morning or the afternoon and journey to Waipara, where you will explore what is arguably one of New Zealand’s best regions for producing wines. Along your way through lush green scenery, stop by at some tasting rooms that showcase their craftsmanship before finishing up back at your Christchurch accommodation.

Enjoy tastings with a distinctive selection of both white and red wines at Pegasus Bay, Waipara Springs, Waipara Hills Winery and Greystone Winery during this half-day tour. There is also the option to add a platter lunch to your tour.

Hanmer Springs Private Day Tour Including Hot Pool & Wine Tasting

The Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa is a popular resort on New Zealand’s South Island and less than two hours north of Christchurch. On this full-day tour, travel from Christchurch in the comfort of a private vehicle, with a stop along the way to enjoy wine tasting in Waipara Hills Wine Region, at 3 different wineries: Pegasus Bay Winery, Waipara Hills & Greystone Wines.

Afterwards, spend the rest of your day at Hanmer Springs where you can relax in the thermal pools and hot springs or take add optional extras such as hot stone massage or jet boating excursion!

Wine Tours From Queenstown

If you are looking to start your wine tours from Queenstown, there are plenty of tour options available, plus options for wine tasting right in the heart of Queenstown itself.

Queenstown is the perfect place to stay for Central Otago wine tours and Gibbston Valley, home of some of New Zealand’s finest wineries. The area has a distinct mountainous terrain. Tourists flock here to sample award-winning Pinot Noir, plus it takes you through some of the most beautiful South Island landscape.

Here are some of the best winery tours from Queenstown:

The Winery

the winery queenstown dispensers

For a Queenstown wine tasting experience, visit The Winery on Ballarat Street in the Queenstown Mall. This unique experience brings many of the best wines from all around New Zealand into one place, allowing you to sample a huge variety of wines in an afternoon.

You start by arranging for a charge card, then go around tapping your card and filling your glass to sample the different wines. Try one or try many, then pay at the end. It could get very dangerous, but it’s really fun! They also offer cheese and fruit platters plus non-alcoholic beverages for kids!

We had a lot of fun here and rave about it all the time! It’s a great option if you are staying in Queenstown or if you are avoiding the rainy weather outdoors and don’t want to venture far from town.

Self-Guided Wineries Bike Tour

Combine scenic riding in the quaint Queenstown countryside with wine tasting. Ride from venue to venue and experience this beautiful region while enjoying a glass of world-famous wine at each stop!

Begin your self-guided tour of Queenstown’s wine region with a scenic drive on a shuttle transfer from Queenstown to the quaint gold mining village of Arrowtown. Here, get fitted for your mountain bike and learn more about bike safety and navigation from the experienced team.

Linger in Arrowtown or head straight out on your ride alongside beautiful Arrow and Kawarau Rivers to the Kawarau Suspension Bridge, home to the world-famous Bungy jump. You can start your ride here if you prefer a half-day option and you can choose to be picked up from any of the wineries on the route.

Wine tastings and food are at your own cost, however bike hire, helmet and map are provided, along with the shuttle transport.

Gourmet Food and Wine Tour with Lunch and Wine Tastings

Discover 2 spectacular wine regions from Queenstown on this wine and foodie scenic day tour. You will enjoy a full day of fine dining, sampling local produce, cheeses and of course, delicious wines at one of the world’s Pinot Noir wine regions.

Visit 4 premium vineyards over 2 wine subregions (Gibbston and the Cromwell/Bannockburn basin). Have a wine barrel cooked lunch consisting of 5 courses with matching wines, Australasia’s largest underground wine cave.

You will also have the opportunity to taste locally handcrafted cheeses while visiting Old Cromwell Town and explore historic Arrowtown.

Otago Wine Trail Bespoke Small Group Tour & Wine Cave

Embark on a small group half-day tour to the heart of this beautiful wine region, where you’ll sample incredible wines and visit the largest Underground Wine Cave in New Zealand. A range of tours are available for your unique experience – choose from various sizes, lengths and themes!

Enjoy a personalised wine tasting based on your preferences and budget. After complimentary hotel pick-up, set off for the heart of Gibbston Valley to some of the best cellar doors in the spectacular region. Nestled amongst mountain ranges among dramatic river gorges, you will enjoy an itinerary designed just for you.

This small group tour includes tastings of 20 wines and the option to add a gourmet lunch if you choose.

Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tour From Queenstown

If you want the convenience of a self-paced day without worrying about who is driving, the Queenstown hop on hop off wine tour is a great budget-friendly option, that allows you to plan the day you want!

The bus pass is valid for a full day and covers 18 different stops through Queenstown, Arrowtown, and Gibbston Valley. It doesn’t include tasting charges or any food and drink, but that gives you plenty of flexibility to plan the perfect day of wine tasting!

Visiting New Zealand Wineries With Kids

While winery tours are typically a grown up day out, many New Zealand wineries do cater to guests under the age of 18 years. While they certainly won’t be sampling any of the wines, some guided tours do allow them to attend. This isn’t always great value though, since you’re paying for the benefit of the full tour package.

Visiting wineries with kids is often easier done as a self-paced or self-guided day trip, or by finding a tour that also incorporates a lot of touristy fun into your visits. A bike riding tour is fun for the whole family, or tours that combine sightseeing and multiple non-winery stops as well.

Your best option is to do a bit of research before you book and make sure the tours are suitable for kids. Or if making your own way there, check to see if there are food and non-alcoholic beverages available. A lot of wineries these days do cater to younger guests and New Zealand tends to be a very family-friendly destination to visit!

If you’re looking to take a wine tour in New Zealand, the options are vast. We’ve compiled all of the best winery tours available for wine lovers so that you can plan your trip with ease. Whether it’s vineyard hopping or tasting some of the most famous wines in the world, they have something for everyone! Now before you go, drop a comment below and tell us what your favourite type of wine is?

new zealand winery tours