New Zealand – a gourmet’s paradise! A land of plenty, a land of fresh, rich foods with distinct characteristics! This journey takes you on a drive through regions accounting for more than 80% of New Zealand’s wine production. Combined with the farmers’ markets, eateries and artisan food producers you’ll encounter along the way, the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail offers New Zealand’s most memorable wine and food experiences.
This evening make your way to Los Angeles International Airport for your overnight flight to Auckland.
International Date Line
During your flight, you will cross the International Date Line.
After you clear Immigration & Customs, meet your driver for your transfer to your Auckland accommodation for a two-night stay. At midday, make your way to the ferry terminal for your transfer across to Waiheke Island. Start the afternoon off with a tasting at one of Waiheke’s boutique vineyards followed by a scenic commentated drive to another vineyard or microbrewery for a tasting and a platter lunch. After lunch, the tour will continue on to another two vineyards for tastings. The experienced local guides are all intimately familiar with Waiheke’s history, culture, people and produce (and are great wine enthusiasts themselves). Return to Auckland.
Within easy reach of Downtown Auckland, Matakana is another special region with its spectacular Hibiscus Coastline and fertile countryside areas home to some of the best kept secrets that the Auckland region has to offer. Matakana is fast becoming one of the favourite destinations for locals and visitors to Auckland. This private tour allows you to choose an exclusive itinerary with the option of including in local producers of honey, cheeses, yoghurts, wine, chocolate, ice cream, organic blueberries, oysters etc. Enjoy being overawed by a huge Kauri tree, Puhoi Bohemian Village, Waiwera or enjoy playing swimming at magnificent Orewa Beach.
Auckland – Rotorua
This morning, collect your rental car and make your way to Rotorua.Take the drive south on State Highway 1 through the rolling hills and dairy pastures of the Waikato region. Perhaps stop in at Zealong Tea Estate for a guided tour and luxurious high tea at New Zealand’s only tea plantation before traveling to the real Middle Earth. See many locations used in the filming of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies on a two-hour tour that begins with a drive through a picturesque Matamata sheep farm. You will then be guided into Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and the Party Tree while hearing behind-the-scenes tales insight into the making of the films. Just south of Matamata is the township of Tirau, home to the largest tin sheep and sheepdog, but it also offers a surprising number of bric-a-brac, art, craft and antique stores if you feel like browsing. Arriving into the city of Rotorua the regions geothermal activity becomes evident as you see steam rising from the roadside and surrounding hills. Considered the cultural center for the Maori people, Rotorua is the ideal place to gain an insight into the history and culture.
Board your gondola at the base of Skyline Rotorua. Take a ride in an 8-seater gondola, the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and enjoy a 487 meter journey up the side of Mt. Ngongotaha. Upon arrival at the summit, make your way to The Volcanic Hills tasting room at the top of the Gondola. Enjoy a wine tasting in this beautiful tasting venue overlooking Rotorua city and lake before your dining experience. Then enjoy lunch at the Skyline restaurant. This evening, join an Evening Cultural Experience at the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley for a combination of cultural storytelling, entertainment and a traditional dinner.
Rotorua – Napier
Continue on to Lake Taupo and marvel at New Zealand’s largest freshwater lake – a giant crater formed following a volcanic eruption in the year 180 CE. As you approach Taupo township, be sure to stop at Huka Falls to view the spectacular sight of 222,000 liters of water spilling down the narrow 11 meter drop. Follow the road as it climbs the rugged Ahimanawa Range before descending the Pacific Coast to art deco Napier. This afternoon, take a walk back in time with a guided walking tour of Napier’s fascinating Art Deco Quarter. Your local guide will tell you stories of the earthquake that destroyed the city, the people they were affected, and the remarkable recovery and rebuild that was completed within two years.
A leisurely morning before making your way the Church Wine Winery. Tour New Zealand’s only wine museum and the iconic Tom McDonald Cellar, as well as covering the region’s grape varieties and the products produced on site.The tour is then followed by a sumptuous Bay Platter, with a selection of nibbles that represent the best of local meat and produce from the Hawke’s Bay region. The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Napier – Martinborough
As you leave the rolling countryside of the Hawke’s Bay you’ll be greeted with some of the country’s richest dairy farmland in the Manawatu Gorge. Continue through the Wairarapa region and stop in the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre, where you can see some of New Zealand native animals. Take another break in Masterson, and visit the interactive Woolshed Museum to learn about sheep farming in New Zealand. As you drive south, a visit to historic Greytown is a ‘must-do’. Take in the restored Victorian buildings and make time for a cup of tea at one of its quaint cafes. Leaving State Highway 2 you will cross over the Ruamahanga River into Martinborough wine country – your destination for the day.
Martinborough – Wellington
Cross the Rimutaka Ranges as you make your way to New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. Take in the boardwalk view as you stroll to Te Papa Museum or indulge your cinematic side exploring Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award winning design studio for Lord Of The Rings. For a taste of vintage fashion, spend some time (and dollars!) on Cuba Street browsing the boutiques. Work off last night’s dinner with a cycling tour of Oriental Bay and undo your good work with a Hokey Pokey ice cream in the sun.
Join a half day Capital Tastes tour and discover fresh tastes in New Zealand’s café capital, and learn about the city, its local tastes, products and people. Stroll behind the scenes at some Wellington’s favorite food places with a personal guide and taste hidden gourmet delights and meet some of the people behind the food. After the tour, return to rental vehicle to Wellington Ferry Terminal and board the Interislander to Picton. On arrival in Picton, collect your rental car and make your way to Blenheim.
Today, join a tour that specializes in stunning wine and food experiences, behind the scenes tours, winemaker hosted tastings and special reserve grade wines and has been created for those who love great wine and want to learn more about the region, the wineries, the wines and the people who create them. Each winery experience is privately hosted away from the public areas; you will not only receive fabulous private service but you will also get to see areas of the winery that are not normally accessible. The tour progresses through a select number of boutique and iconic wineries and participants get to meet great people who know wine and love sharing their passion.
Blenheim – Christchurch
Travel down the ruggedly beautiful coastline between the surging Pacific Ocean and the steeply rising Kaikoura Ranges, across broad, braided rivers and the rich patchwork farming landscape of the Canterbury region to Christchurch. Stop off at Kaikoura for an optional whale watching cruise.
A free morning before joining a tour of the Wine Trail, visiting four of North Canterbury’s boutique vineyards. All are located in the Waipara area, which is well known for its warm dry climate and limestone rich soils. Both elements are ideal for quality wine production and each of the visited vineyards produces a fine selection of both white and red wines as a result. Lunch is included.
This morning travel through a mixture of high country tussock, farmland and snow capped mountains. Cross the farmlands of the Canterbury Plains and stop at the exquisite, turquoise Lake Tekapo to visit the stunning lakeside Church. A small side trip takes you to Aoraki, Mt Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain where you can explore the village and soak up the view. Arrive Queenstown late afternoon.
This morning, return your rental vehicle before transferring to the Airport for your flight to Milford Sound. During the 35- minute flight, enjoy panoramic views of spectacular alpine scenery including glaciers, rivers, lakes and rainforest. Land at Milford Sound Airport and transfer to the Visitor Terminal for a leisurely nature cruise the full length of the fiord to the Tasman Sea. View spectacular alpine scenery including waterfalls, rainforest and towering peaks and keep a look out for wildlife including seals, dolphins and penguins. Afterwards be transferred back to Milford Airport for a scenic return flight to Queenstown.
Discover Central Otago’s scenic wine country on this small group and interactive tour. Be picked up from your accommodation, travel through the rugged Kawarau Gorge and learn about the pioneering history and spirit of the area before tastings at four premium wineries. Sample the Pinot Noir that the region is internationally renowned for and relax amongst good company with a delicious platter lunch at the Carrick Winery. Visit the historic precinct of Old Cromwell town and the must-see Arrowtown. Enjoy hand-crafted chocolates at your own leisure.
Today, transfer to Queenstown airport for your return flight to Los Angeles, via Auckland.
- Round-trip airfare on Air New Zealand from Los Angeles to Auckland, returning from Queenstown
- Auckland private arrival transfer airport to hotel
- Two nights Auckland, Cordis Auckland
- Round-trip ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island
- Afternoon Artisan Tour, Waiheke Island
- Private Wine and Dine Tour, Matakana Country and Cuisine
- Eleven Days Group E Car rental including GPS
- Two nights Rotorua, Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel
- Gondola and Volcanic Hill Wine Tasting with Buffet Lunch, Rotorua
- Te Po Indigenous Evening Experience, Rotorua
- Two nights, Napier, The Crown Hotel
- Church Road Winery and Museum Tour including Platter, Napier
- Art Deco Afternoon Guided Walk, Napier
- One night Martinborough Hotel
- One night, Wellington, QT Museum Hotel Wellington
- Capital Tastes Tour, Wellington
- Ferry transfer from Wellington to Picton with Lounge Upgrade
- Two nights Blenheim, The Marlborough Lodge, including dinner
- Two nights Christchurch, Hotel Montreal
- Wine Trail with Lunch tour, Christchurch
- Three nights Queenstown, Hotel St Moritz
- Gourmet Scenic Wine Tour, Queenstown
- Milford Sound, Fly, Nature Cruise, Fly
- Private transfer Queenstown Hotel to Airport
- Breakfast Daily
- US/foreign taxes & fees including Sep 11 Security Fee