Wine tours are a wonderful way to get out and see New Zealand’s stunning wineries. They allow you to have fun tasting the beautiful whites and reds while your guide gets you where you need to be safely and without stress.
But after piling on yet another coach full of old folks and boozy young girls, the average New Zealand wine tours start to get a little tired. If you’re after a wine tour with a difference, the following gourmet experiences are just the ticket.
Fine Wine Tours
On your average wine tour, your guide will know enough about wine to get by but he’ll leave the hard stuff to the professionals. In fact, in most cases he’ll drop you at the cellar door and let you fend for yourself. But Fine Wine Tours isn’t your average wine tour.
This Auckland-based company offers tours hosted by wine writer Phil Parker. This guy knows his stuff, and he wants to share it with you. He’ll take a maximum of ten wine enthusiasts on each tour, ensuring personal service. The chosen ones travel to Auckland’s gold medal wineries, including Kumea River, Cooper’s Creek, Matua, Matakana Estates, Soljans and many more. You’ll enjoy complimentary cheese boards to accompany your wine, and tasting notes so you’ll understand them better.
It’s these little touches that separate Fine Wine Tours from the rest, and make them so popular with wine enthusiasts. Tours start from $139 per person.
Pacific Cycle Tours
Pacific Cycle Tours allows you to experience the world famous Marlborough wine region, and get some exercise at the same time. The relaxed pace of the bike ride allows you to see more of the countryside than you would from a bus, and it’s a lot more eco-friendly.
You’ll cycle a leisurely 20-30 kilometers each day, so you don’t have to be a fitness freak to keep up. Your luggage will also be transported to your accommodation each day, so you never have to worry about your bags, or the wine you buy, weighing you down.
At $1,850 the experience is a little pricier than your average wine tour. But remember that this includes accommodation for four nights, all breakfasts, and bike and helmet hire.
The Hawke’s Bay touring company Grape Escape looks to break away from the mundane and offer wine tourists a New Zealand experience they won’t forget. They offer tours for the casual drinker and the serious wine lover, from one day excursions to 12-day wine safaris.
One of the more unusual is the Heli Wine and Dine tour, a package which screams indulgence. You’ll set out on a 30-minute helicopter ride which offers a bird’s eye view of the stunning Hawke’s Bay region below. You’ll see the famous Te Mata Peak and the breathtaking Hawke’s Bay coastline before heading to the Gimblett Gravels wine district. Your journey will end at the acclaimed Sileni Estate, where you’ll indulge in a two course lunch with matching wines.
With your belly full you’ll explore the Gimblett Gravel district, enjoying the region’s stunning reds and whites as you go. The area is famous for classic European reds like syrah, merlot, and malbec, as well as the whites like the chardonnay, pinot gris, and viognier. Your stay will take in four wineries whose wines will be paired with local cheeses.
At the end of the tour you’ll be taken back to your accommodation, making the entire experience stress free and super indulgent. Grape Escape tours start from $60. The Heli Wine and Dine tour starts from $395.
Coach tours are an efficient way of getting around the New Zealand wineries, but when the journey is just as important the destination it’s worth considering these tours which dare to be different.
Honestly, it doesn’t much matter your mode of transportation for New Zealand wine tours because you’ll enjoy the experience regardless. Learn about Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough, Auckland, Canterbury, and Nelson including each region’s top wineries and what to see and do during your wine tour. Jim Hunter writes about wine vacations around the world for WorldwideWineTours, a free website with information on a growing number of wine rich countries: Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and more.