To view it on a map, New Zealand appears to be a close neighbor of Australia. But while they may share the same body of water in the same region of the world, and to the untrained ear they semi-sort of speak alike, in distance, there is nothing close about them at all. The two are 2,587 air miles apart, just slightly shorter than the distance between Los Angeles and NYC. Much further than a hop, skip, and a jump.
Still, when you consider the distance of traveling from Australia to Europe, Southeast Asia, or the United States, it makes New Zealand an attractive destination for Aussies wanting to oil up and wind down for a few days.
Kiwis, or native New Zealanders, are water lovers by nature. How could they not be? For diving, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, fishing, snorkeling, or toasting on the beach, anyone would be hard-pressed to find a better location. It’s a Mecca of sun, sand, and surf. But. Not everybody from the land down under travels to New Zealand for the tan lines.
Those familiar with this magnificent country also know there is mountain biking, cycling, hiking, backpacking, fly fishing, caving, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, skydiving, and an abundance of nature.
Connoisseurs will have their palates challenged by New Zealand’s rich domestic wines, particularly the full-bodied reds they are best known for. Just as in Napa Valley, California, the majority of wineries are open to the public for touring and tasting.
Instead of concentrating on the beautiful beaches which are a huge draw for thousands of Australians, let’s have a look at a few other ways to occupy your time in New Zealand, beginning with a five-day tour of the wine country, which also includes lots of food tasting along the way.
New Zealand Wine Country Trail
This is a self-guided five-day tour which begins in Hawke’s Bay. Here you will find the only chocolate museum in the southern hemisphere at Silky Oak Chocolate. After the sweet morsels have melted in your mouth, a visit to the New Zealand Wine Centre will give you the lowdown on wines from the area. The Filter Room and Cedar Café is another stop. Here you will see brewing in action as you try out their premium ales.
In the afternoon you can take a tour of the wine country by van, bicycle, or by helicopter for an aerial view. At the Church Road Wine Museum, you’ll learn about winemaking through the centuries and get to taste the current vintages. In the evening there is a cooking class available for learning how to prepare delicacies which are unique to New Zealand.
The next morning, head to Havelock North and pick your own juicy strawberries at the Strawberry Patch. Pernel Fruitworld is where you’ll get a taste of other fruits grown in the region. After that visit Sileni Wineries for wine and cheese tasting.
Martinborough is where you should be on the afternoon of day two where you can visit some family-owned vineyards, as well as artisan food producers. Olive oil is produced in Martinborough at Olivo. You’ll learn how it is produced and have a chance to sample some of the different oils. At Martinborough Wine Merchants you’ll find every type of wine produced in the region.
The morning of day three should find you in Masterton at Kingsmeade Cheese where their gouda and cheddar cheeses are made from sheep’s milk. For a bit of a side trip in the afternoon, the colonial city of Greytown offers shopping, art galleries, and fashion shops. Stop in at the French Baker for some authentic French bread and rolls, and visit Schoc on the main street for some yummy artisan chocolate.
Hang around for dinner at one of the many restaurants and then for dessert go to The Little Waffle Shop. If you would rather drink dessert, there are plenty of small specialty bars offering a variety of flavored drinks.
The city of Wellington is next on the list for day four. Here you will find a vibrant and alive food scene. There are private tours available for meeting the top chefs in town and sampling their arrays of freshly prepared meats and produce. There are also multiple opportunities for having the best brunch you’ve ever tasted.
In the evening there is a twilight cruise where visitors get to wash down fresh seafood with a variety of local wines. This is highly recommended. If mussels are high on your list of seafood, take the Greenshell Mussel Cruise. Freshly steamed mussels are paired with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It is the perfect wine/food match.
There are also cooking workshops where anyone can learn to prepare three-course gourmet meals for their guests once they arrive back home.
The final day will end up in Marlborough. The best thing to do here is to pick up a guide showing where the wineries are. You’ll also have a chance to discover why Marlborough has been named the “Gourmet Province of New Zealand.”
Helicopter tours of the area are available for a half or a full day. There is yet another chocolate factory where you can watch the chocolatiers at work. The Vines Village has it all. Olive oils, locally produce wines, ales, and liqueurs, along with culinary fare to die for. Visit one of the many orchards and pick your own cherries, stone fruit, and berries of different sorts.
Taking a wine and food tour through New Zealand is only one of many ways to enjoy your stay in this beautiful region of the world. Other suggested itineraries include art, culture, and heritage, outdoor adventures, family-designed activities, and for well-to-do travelers, a luxury tour jammed full of amenities.
It is no wonder why Australians have chosen New Zealand as a favorite destination to spend their holidays. Of course, New Zealand is not only reserved for the Aussies. For the best vacation you will ever experience, it should be added to your future travel list.