The Classic New Zealand Wine trail spans both islands, stretching from Napier in the north to Blenheim in the south. But if you don’t have time for the full route, you can still experience the magic over 2-3 days. This leg of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail has you starting from New Zealand’s capital city with your Wellington Airport car rental and finishing in Napier. This region of the country is jam packed with vineyards and wine and food lovers will be spoiled with gourmet choices.
Wellington is rich in cafes and restaurants – the ideal place to start your food and wine journey. Once you’ve had your fill of cuisine and culture in the city, head north toward Martinborough, passing through the Rimutaka Ranges. In Martinborough, the heart of the wine trail, the charming village square boasts several heritage buildings. Accommodation options are full of characters, from county estates and cottages to boutique hotels and B&Bs. All the local vineyards, of which there are dozens, are an easy stroll from town. There’s also a wine centre where you can taste many wines in one place. Excellent restaurants complement the region’s wine offerings, of which pinot noir is the king.
From Martinborough continue on north. Along the way you will encounter a variety of small towns, which can make nice stop off points. The wildlife sanctuary at Mt Bruce is an essential stop. See the rare white kiwi – Manukura, the world’s only white kiwi in captivity – and other birds and reptiles. Greytown is home to Victoria architecture and Featherston a locomotive museum.
Upon reaching Napier you will immediately see what makes it special: the well preserved art deco architecture. The city rebuilt following a huge earthquake and its buildings are now a point of difference. On Saturday morning, the Napier farmers’ market is a great place to shop for artisan foods and fresh produce. All of Hawke’s Bay’s vineyards are easy to access from Napier. Book a tour, cycle around or take your Wellington Airport car rental and nominate a designated driver. You can obtain a winery map from the i-SITE information centre.