New Zealand is a magnet for lovers of fine wine, but you don’t have to travel to the country’s sauvignon blanc–producing powerhouse, Marlborough, to find a delicious bottle. Here’s what you need to know about the excellent wine regions that sit within easy reach of New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland.
The Auckland region is home to three wine-growing areas, all easily accessible during day tours from the city. Waiheke Island, just a short ferry ride from the city, has its own warm microclimate, and some stunning beaches to boot. Intense fruit flavors are the order of the day here, with local vineyards producing cabernet blends, syrah, and Montepulciano, as well as chardonnay, viognier, and pinot gris.
Kumeu in West Auckland is one of the region’s older wine-growing areas, with European immigrants believed to have planted the first vines here almost 100 years ago. A wide range of varietals are grown, with cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and merlot all proving popular. To the north of Auckland sits the younger wine-producing region of Matakana, which specializes in Bordeaux-style reds made from merlot and cabernet franc, as well as Italian-style reds such as sangiovese and Montepulciano.
- Fly over the scenic Hauraki Gulf by seaplane, landing for lunch and a wine tasting on a vineyard.
- Take a side trip to the black-sand beaches of the North Island’s west coast, such as Muriwai, during a wine tour of Kumeu.
- Take the ferry to Waiheke Island for a wine-tasting tour.
- Explore behind the scenes and find out about winemaking techniques on winery tours.
- Perfect your palate during tutored wine tastings of Auckland wines.
- Pair wines with locally made gourmet goodies, such as honey, olives, and chocolate, on small-group wine and food tours of Matakana.