59 Federal Street, Auckland
New Zealand, ‘land of the long white cloud’ in Maori language, is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The varied landscape and dramatic geography features cascading glaciers, active volcanoes, placid lakes and vast mountain ranges. If it looked spectacular in Lord of the Rings then wait until you see the real thing!
New Zealand produces a range of high quality wines (in the UK its wines command the highest average price per bottle of any country in the world) and its wine regions are spread all over the country from the north of the North Island to the south of the South Island. On this unique wine tour we will visit most of the main wine producing regions including Auckland, Waheike, Hawkes Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough, Canterbury and Otagao.
During the tour we will also see local Maori culture and history, wonder at the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, admire the art deco buildings of Napier and Hastings, cross the Marlborough Sound, and experience the adventure capital of Queenstown (bungy jumping optional!). And even better this trip will take in the end of the summer in New Zealand when the weather is warm and balmy – so escape the British Winter and join us for a trip of a lifetime!
You will need to book your own international flights, and also one domestic flight, (see further details below ‘Flights’) so that you arrive in Auckland by mid-afternoon on Day 1 of the tour. The tour program will start late afternoon that day at Hotel Rydges in Auckland.
Here is the draft daily itinerary:
Day 1 Sunday 26th February: Around 6 pm congregate in the lobby of Hotel Rydges (2 nights) to meet the rest of the group. We will review the tour program and then go to dinner together at a local restaurant.
Day 2 Monday 27th February: Today we take the ferry to the nearby island of Waheike for the first of our winery visits. Waheike has a warm, Mediterranean climate and produces some excellent Bordeaux blends. The island has a laid back feel which attracts writers and artists. We will visit 2 wineries on Waheike including lunch at one – Te Whau, Obsidian, Man ‘O War and Stonyridge are on the shortlist. There may also be time to visit an olive oil producer. Late afternoon we take the ferry back to Auckland. This evening is free to enjoy the city.
Day 3 Tuesday 28th February: Checking out of our hotel we drive north to one of New Zealand’s most prestigious wineries Kumeu River who produce very fine Burgundian style wines. We continue to Soljans Winery for a tasting and lunch. After lunch we drive south-east to Rotorua (220 kms, 2 ¾ hours) and check into our hotel, Holiday Inn (2 nights). This evening will be free.
Day 4 Wednesday 1st March: Today is free to visit the extraordinary sights of Rotorua which is a volcanic area with many thermal springs. We will also have use of our tour bus so there will also be an option of a day trip to visit some of the scenic highlights in the area like Lake Taupo. This evening is free but there will be an option to go a traditional Maori show and dinner.
Day 5 Thursday 2nd March: Checking out of our hotel we drive to the Hawkes Bay region on the East Coast (220 kms, 2 ¾ hours). Hawkes Bay is famous for the Gimblett Gravels which produce high quality Syrahs and Bordeaux blends. Around midday we will visit Esk Valley winery, where Gordon Russell, one of the most acclaimed winemakers in New Zealand, will welcome us for a tour, tasting and lunch. After lunch we will visit Mission Estate, established in 1861 so one of the oldest wineries in the country, for a tour of their historic buildings followed by a tasting. We continue to Napier and check into Hotel Scenic (2 nights). This evening is free to explore the town.
Day 6 Friday 3rd March: Napier has a wealth of Art Deco buildings and this morning we will have a private guided walking tour of the highlights of the town. Afterwards we will go to Church Road winery for lunch and tasting. And later this afternoon we continue to Trinity Hill winery for a tour and tasting. This evening is free in Napier.
Day 7 Saturday 4th March: This morning we check out of our hotel and drive south to the region of Wairarapa (270 kms, 3 ½ hours). Wairarapa based on the main town of Martinborough produces some excellent Pinot Noirs as well as fine Chardonnays. Today the Martinborough Country Fair will be taking place in the town centre with dozens of stalls showing their wares. There will be 2-3 hours free time to enjoy the Fair and have lunch. Late afternoon we will visit Larry McKenna one of the pioneers of Martinborough. Larry used to be the winemaker at Martinborough Vineyard but he now makes wine under his own lablel Escarpment. Then we drive the short distance to Greytown where we will be staying for one night only at the Greyfriars Motel. This evening is free.
Day 8 Sunday 5th March: This morning we visit another winery, possibly Ata Rangi or Palliser and then late morning we drive to Wellington (80 kms, 1 ¼ hours), the political capital of New Zealand. Here we board the early afternoon Interisland ferry for the spectacular crossing between North and South Islands across the Marlborough Sounds which takes around 3 hours. On arrival at the port of Picton a bus will transfer us to Scenic Hotel in the town of Blenheim (2 nights). This evening is free to enjoy the town.
Day 9 Monday 6th March: Today we have a busy program as we make the most of our one full day in the Marlborough Wine Region. Marlborough has the highest concentration of wineries in New Zealand and produces 70% of all New Zealand wine! It is of course best known for its vibrant, zesty Sauvignons but it’s by no means a one trick pony as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, sparkling wines and more also feature here. We will visit 3 wineries today including lunch at one – on our shortlist are Seresin, Fromm, Rock Ferry, St. Clair, Staete Lande. This evening is free.
Day 10 Tuesday 7th March: This morning we check out of our hotel and drive south to the Awatere Valley which is a sub-region of Marlborough. We visit Stanley Winery where we will be received by owner Steve Pellett. We continue south to the coastal town of Kaikoura (104 kms, 1 ½ hours) where we stop for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we drive to the town of Cheviot (68kms, 1 hour) and Mount Beautiful Winery where we will have a tour and tasting. Late afternoon we drive to Christchurch (112 kms, 1 ½ hours) our final stop for the day and check into Peppers Clearwater Resort (2 nights), a delightful, relaxing estate on the outskirts of the city. This evening is free.
Day 11 Wednesday 8th March: There will be free time this morning in the city of Christchurch – you may like to visit the Antarctic Museum or the Christchurch Museum, stroll through the city centre or just relax at our hotel. Around midday we will drive an hour north to the Canterbury wine region where we will visit the premier wine estate Pegasus Bay for a tour, tasting and lunch in their renowned restaurant. Late afternoon we return to Christchurch. This evening is free.
Day 12 Thursday 9th March: This morning we check out and drive the short distance to Christchurch airport for the flight to Queenstown (you need to buy your own ticket - see further details below under Domestic Flights). On arrival a bus will meet us and take us straight to our first winery in the Central Otago region for lunch and tasting – probably Wild Earth or Mount Difficulty. Central Otago being the most southerly and therefore coolest wine region in New Zealand is the premier region for Pinot Noir, and there are also fine Rieslings and Chardonnays. This afternoon we will visit the iconic winery Felton Road for a tour and tasting. Felton Road is owned by Englishman Nigel Greening and produces a stunning range of wines. Late afternoon we drive to Queenstown and check into our accommodation at Platinum Villas for the next 3 nights. This evening is free.
Day 13 Friday 10th March: Today is a completely free day in Queenstown to enjoy the stunning scenery, maybe indulge in one of the many adventure activities (bungy jumping anyone?), take a cruise on Lake Wakatipu or just relax, see the town and browse the many shops. This evening we are planning a BYO group dinner together at our villas.
Day 14 Saturday 11th March: Today is the last day of the tour when we will visit our final 2 wineries. During the day we may drive to Lake Wanaka, an hour from Queenstown, to visit Rippon Estate, often photographed as the winery with possibly the most beautiful setting in the whole world! Afterwards we will head back to the Bannockburn area for lunch and tasting at another winery. This evening is free though we may arrange a farewell dinner.
Day 15 Sunday 12th March: After breakfast TOUR ENDS
WINERIES: The visits to some wineries have been confirmed and others are still being arranged. The final list will be sent with the itinerary.
TOUR COST and INCLUSIONS
Tour Cost £3,295 sharing a Double or Twin Room; £900 Supplement for Single Occupancy (see Note below ‘ACCOMMODATION’ about Platinum Villas in Queenstown). This represents very good value as another well-known UK wine tour operator is running a tour to New Zealand next February with a very similar itinerary for a cost of £6,295! With Criterion Wine you get exceptional quality AND value.
- 14 nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation in mostly 4 star hotels (see Accommodation below for further details)
- Air conditioned coaches throughout the tour
- Tastings at 20 different wineries
- 12 Lunches or Dinners at wineries or local restaurants
- Ferry tickets between Auckland and Waheike on Day 2, and between Wellington and Picton on Day 8
- Art Deco Walking Tour of Napier with a private guide
- Services of tour/wine guide Christos Ioannou
Flights are NOT included – see further details below.
HOW TO BOOK THIS TOUR: RSVP then send an e-mail to [masked] to request a booking form. To book complete the booking form and pay the non-refundable deposit of £800. The balance of payment will be due 8 weeks before the tour. There are just 20 places available and the tour is bound to sell out so don't delay!
INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS: You will need to book your own international flights to arrive in Auckland by 2 pm latest on Day 1 of the tour Sunday 26th February. The tour will start at around 6 pm that day in the hotel lobby. Return flights - the tour ends after breakfast on Day 15 Sunday 12th March, so if you are flying back home that day you can book any flight.
DOMESTIC FLIGHTS: You will need to book a one-way domestic flight between Christchurch (CHC) and Queenstown (ZQN) – NZ627 departs CHC 10.00 Thursday 9th March. Make sure you book the fare which includes a check-in bag up to 23kgs. Cost at time of writing (10th August) is £111.
1) Auckland, Hotel Rydges (2 nights) – is centrally located in the Central Business District and is an 8-minute walk from the harbor and waterfront which features a vibrant and diverse array of restaurants and bars. This modern hotel is also a 2-minute walk from both the Sky Tower attraction and the SkyCity Auckland casino. The 267 spacious guest rooms have free WI-FI.
2) Rotorua, Holiday Inn (2 nights) - Located on the edge of the spectacular Redwood forest and overlooking Whakarewarewa Geothermal Reserve, Holiday Inn Rotorua is the perfect hotel to explore this beautiful part of the North Island. There is a heated swimming pool and fitness centre, and all 203 rooms have unlimited wi-fi.
3) Napier (Hawkes Bay), Scenic Hotel (2 nights) – enjoys a premium waterfront location on Marine Parade. A fresh, contemporary style hotel, Scenic Hotel Te Pania is just a short stroll from Napier’s main art deco style street. There are 109 rooms and free wi-fi is available throughout the hotel.
4) Greytown (Martinborough), Greyfriars Motel (1 night) – is a charming, colonial style motel with 15 open plan studio units. With free newspapers and Wi-fi the Motel is located in the heart of the Greytown Heritage area which is just 15 minutes’ drive from the town of Martinborough. http://www.greyfriars.co.nz/
5) Blenheim (Marlborough), Scenic Hotel (2 nights) - just minutes’ walk from the centre of Blenheim the hotel offers guests modern comfort and services. There are 54 rooms, a heated outdoor pool and free wi-fi throughout. https://www.scenichotelgroup.co.nz/locations/new-zealand/blenheim/scenic-hotel-marlborough
6) Christchurch, Peppers Clearwater Resort (2 nights) – a few kilometers outside the city centre and close to the airport this waterfront resort is set within beautiful grounds overlooking Lake Kaikainui. It offers comfortable accommodation and guests enjoy an 18-hole championship golf course, which is home to the New Zealand PGA. The spacious guest rooms all overlook the lake or golf course. http://www.peppers.co.nz/clearwater/
7) Queenstown, Platinum Villas (3 nights) – these luxurious 3 bedroom Villas are a few minutes’ walk from the centre of Queenstown. with stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. Each villa is on 2 storeys with 135 square meters of luxury and space, featuring 2 bathrooms, full designer kitchen, spacious lounge and dining areas. http://www.platinumqueenstown.co.nz/
IMPORTANT NOTE for SINGLE SUPPLEMENT at PLATINUM VILLAS - each Villa has 3 bedrooms, 1 of which is en-suite, whilst the other 2 bedrooms (1 twin, 1 double) share the 2nd bathroom. Dependent on the final make-up of the group (how many couples, singles) it is likely that those who have chosen the single room option for the tour will have their own bedroom at Platinum Villas but share the 2nd bathroom with one other person.
Hi, interested in any wine tastings going on around London.
Likes wine tasting, and travel
Terroir fanatic. Love to eat, drink, breathe and experience authenticity surrounded by enthusiasm
Hi, I recently completed my WSET Diploma and love wine, dining and travel
Additional notes: See the full booking conditions for the cancellation/refund terms
Payments you make go to the organizer, not to Meetup. You must make refund requests to the organizer.