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New Zealand's best wine regions

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8 April 2014 by Daniel Wright

New Zealand is consistently awarded for the quality of its wines and uses them as a showcase for the country. Perhaps the best thing about Kiwi wine is its acidity and drinkability, but that's not to say producers don't focus on the top end.

In years to come New Zealand will be producing some of the best wines around as they refine what they are doing ... they'll certainly have wines that can be kept for 20 to 30 years, on par with anything in Burgundy or Bordeaux.

In recognition of this we've put together a special guide to discovering the best of New Zealand's wine. While all of the regions are worthy of a visit, if you're short on time, perhaps focus on Hawke's Bay and Central Otago; Hawke's Bay has a great restaurant scene that has grown up around the wine industry, while Otago is all about Pinot, Pinot, Pinot. 

For the ultimate chance to discover the very best of New Zealand's world-class food and wine, take an outstanding 22-day tailor-made New Zealand Culinary Journey...

New Zealand Wine Guide


NorthlandNorthland is New Zealand's oldest and most northerly wine region. Northland enjoys warm, subtropical growing conditions.

Regional Summary
The region's boutique vineyards produce ripe, well-rounded whites - such as Chardonnay - and substantial Cabernet Merlot blends.


AucklandAuckland is the HQ for many of New Zealand's largest wine companies and is rich with wine growing history.

Regional summary
The region grows quality wines - ripe Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and mouth-filling whites such as Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Recently attention has focused on the emerging sub-regions of Waiheke Island and Matakana.

Waikato/Bay of Plenty

WaikatoThis warm, temperate countryside produces a variety of flavoursome wines.

Regional summary
A small number of vineyards sprinkled across the area produce Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons, which boast complex, ripe flavours with moderate acidity.


GisborneAs the world's most easterly wine growing region, Gisborne is to first to feel the sun each day.

Regional summary
Gisborne is a warm, coastal region renowned for its generous, highly approachable wines - especially the soft Chardonnays.

Hawke's Bay

Hawke's BayHawke's Bay has a long, rich heritage of fine wine production and is the country's largest growing region for red varieties.

Regional summary
The region's Merlot-based blends are rich and plummy in their youth, acquiring complex, gamy characteristics with age.

The Cabernet Sauvignon reds exhibit flavours of blackcurrant and spice, often with a touch of mint. Emerging Syrah has ‘Rhone-like' elegance with notes of plum and black pepper. Hawke's Bay's peach and grapefruit flavoured Chardonnays have gained great acclaim, while the Sauvignon Blancs (softer and riper than those from Marlborough) and weighty, aromatic Pinot Gris and Reisling also perform well.


WairarapaThis is a small wine region with a top-flight reputation.

Regional summary
Wairarapa produces solid red and white wines from several grape varieties, but is especially acclaimed for the flavoursome Pinot Noirs from Martinborough.


NelsonThe picturesque valleys of Nelson revel in a sunny, maritime climate.

Regional summary
Nelson produces some of the country's most freshly scented and intensely aromatic wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, along with vibrant, supple Pinot Noirs.


MarlboroughMarlborough is New Zealand's largest wine region, particularly noted for it's strikingly pungent Sauvignon Blanc.

Regional summary
Marlborough's sunny days and cool nights ensure vibrant, complex wines renowned the world over.

Marlborough is New Zealand's (some say the world's) Sauvignon Blanc capital and the benchmark quality produced here has put the country firmly on the world wine map. The region is also the largest producer of mouth-filling Pinot Noir reds. Marlborough also excels with other white varieties, in particular fresh, fruity Chardonnays, crisp, fragrant Rieslings and top-class bottle-fermented sparkling wines.


CanterburyThe Waipara Valley and plains of Canterbury produce distinguished Rieslings and Pinot Noirs.

Regional summary
These dry, southerly and cool climate districts are acclaimed for aromatic Rieslings and intense Pinot Noirs.

Central Otago

Central OtagoThe dramatic mountain valley vineyards of the world's most southerly wine region have taken great leaps forward in recent years.

Regional summary
The Pinot Noir from Central Otago has gained a strong following with its vibrant, cherry-like spicy flavour and velvety texture.

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