Vineyard, Marlborough

12 day self-drive itinerary

Follow the Grapevine

Discover New Zealand's verdant vineyards

Our wine tasting tour of New Zealand is a 12-day self-drive experience, ideal for couples wanting a romantic getaway with a touch of adventure. It offers the best of the country’s vineyard regions coupled with stunning landscapes and North Island city life. Travel at your own pace and stop off wherever takes your fancy, with some helpful guidance along the way. Wine connoisseurs will love this tour and it is equally suited for travellers wanting to experience New Zealand’s unique culture and great outdoors.

Start your New Zealand wine tasting tour in Auckland where you can explore the cosmopolitan city and some wonderful vineyards in the nearby region. After three days around the Auckland area, head south to the geothermal geysers at Rotorua before driving south to Lake Taupo for more scenic wonders and the chance to trek. Next, travel east to the Hawke’s Bay region for rugged coastlines and superb vineyard country. Take a walking tour around Napier to soak up its Art Deco before heading on to Martinborough for a vineyard tour on bicycle or foot. Dine at one of the many excellent restaurants where you can sample local food and wine.

End your journey in the nation’s capital, Wellington. Spend three nights in a vibrant and friendly city. Take in history and culture at Te Papa interactive museum before indulging in more wine on our grapevine tour. See the harbour lit up at night - a perfect way to remember Wellington and finish your tour in this beautiful country.

Our Experts Recommend:
  • Geothermal Geysers in Rotorua
  • Twilight Odyssey Wine Tasting tour in Hawke’s Bay
  • Gourmet Wine Escape Tour in Martinborough
  • Te Papa Interactive Museum, Wellington

Sample Itinerary Summary

We can tailor any part of this itinerary or create a new one just for you.

Duration
12 days
Options
Private basis, Self-Guided

Itinerary Breakdown

Three nights in the ‘city of sails’ is an ideal way to experience the cosmopolitan side of New Zealand. Head to the top of the Sky Tower for stunning views of the city and its harbour. Dine at some of the best restaurants in New Zealand and allow our guide to take you to excellent nearby vineyards.

A ferry ride across to Waiheke Island is perfect for this and a day spent here can include wine tasting, guided nature walks and a romantic dinner at a mudbrick restaurant. Back in Auckland, you can also dine at excellent restaurants and enjoy some relaxing nightlife along the harbours. Sea and boat lovers will adore the countless yachts, boats and ferries visible on the ocean.

Points of Interest

  • Sky Tower
  • Wine tour of Waiheke
  • Ferry ride to Waiheke Island

Head south to Rotorua and visit the spectacular geothermal geysers and mud pools at Orakei Tarakao. Volcanic activity spews hot thermal water high into the air, creating a spectacle of steam. You’ll also find thermal baths and the chance to see brilliant wood carvings made by Māori craftsmen.

From Rotorua, drive on towards Taupo, taking a scenic drive through New Zealand’s beautiful countryside. Spend the night next to Lake Taupo and enjoy the serene beauty of the lake.

Points of Interest

  • Geothermal Geysers in Rotorua
  • Māori woodcarvings
  • Beautiful Lake Taupo

Spend the morning walking in some spectacular hill country around Tongariro National Park. After, continue on the wine trail by heading east to the Hawkes Bay region, famous for its beautiful rugged coastline, vineyards and gourmet food. Arrive in charming Napier where you’ll embark on an evening Twilight Odyssey tour of the vineyards of the region and enjoy an equally impressive dinner to match.

Spend the day strolling around this wonderful town, which boasts some superb 1930s Art Deco architecture. A walking tour around the town can be booked here. Alternatively, enjoy the day at one of the many excellent vineyards and sample the region’s local produce.

Close by is the stunning coastline of Hawke’s Bay where you can see the largest gannet colony in the world, ideal if you are a nature lover. A trip to the top of Te Mata peak is also well worth the effort for stunning views of the rugged coastline and ocean. Napier boasts some excellent restaurants and is a great location for those wanting to continue the gourmet trail by indulging in some of the country’s finest cheese, olives, honey and chocolate. Some of the best wines of this region include Pinot Gris and Syrah. A great place to try these is at one of the fine restaurants overlooking the waterfront.

Points of Interest

  • Walking tour in Napier
  • Te Mata peak
  • Gourmet Dining

Follow the grapevine trail south to Martinborough via Carterton, Greytown and Featherstone. Stop for a break in Featherstone for a visit to the historic lighthouse at Palliser Bay and the possibility of seeing native fur seals on this rugged stretch of coast. Martinborough is another gem of the Hawke’s Bay area. Enjoy a relaxing walk around this charming village while admiring its wonderfully preserved colonial architecture.

Hire a bicycle from Hawke’s Bay and tour some of the 20 vineyards in the area. Stay at one of the vineyards for an idyllic experience of wine, countryside and luxury. Alternatively, more laid back and simple accommodation can be found at the holiday park.

 

Today is free for you to enjoy the delights and charms of Martinborough at your own pace. A perfect way to experience the area is by joining a Gourmet Wine Escape Tour. You are sure to meet fellow wine lovers and you’ll visit four top of the range vineyards. Have lunch at a vineyard café and quench your thirst with some Pinot Noir, the world famous produce of the region.

Points of Interest

  • Gourmet Wine Escape Tour
  • Dining at a vineyard restaurant
  • Tasting world famous Pinot Noir

Head south on a scenic drive towards Wellington. The route will take you through some of the most stunning landscapes in the North Island - the Rimutaka Hills. Make your way to Rimutaka Summit for incredible views of the surrounding country and the distant southern ocean.

If you want to take this leg of the tour slowly, head out to Wairarapa and the beautiful Castlepoint Beach. Ascend the famous Castle Rock, which stands at 162 metres high and offers fantastic views. At Pukuka Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, you’ll have the chance to see the rare white Kiwi. Finally, arrive in the nation’s vibrant and friendly capital city, Wellington.

Finish your wine tour of New Zealand with a three night stay in the capital. Wellington boasts excellent cuisine, a relaxed café culture and wonderful sights which will grab your attention. Explore the Te Papa Interactive National Museum down by the harbour. You’ll learn about New Zealand’s fascinating history and enjoy some of the finest art exhibitions in the country.

Boutique coffee houses line Cuba Street, where you can spend the afternoon sampling their produce. More wine tasting can be done at the specialist stores too, where they’ll help you mix and match with three course meals. A trip to the Botanical Gardens by cable car is a great way to unwind, enjoy views of the city and spend time in nature.

Points of Interest

  • Te Papa Interactive National Museum
  • Boutique coffee shops
  • Cable car to Botanical Gardens
  • Auckland

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Sky Tower
    • Harbour
    • Ferry ride to Waiheke Island
    • Wine tour of Waiheke
  • Lake Taupo

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Geothermal Geysers in Rotorua
    • Thermal Hot baths
    • Māori woodcarvings
    • Beautiful Lake Taupo
  • Napier

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Explore the Art Deco capital
    • Walking tour in Napier
    • Te Mata peak
    • Gourmet Dining
  • Martinborough

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Gourmet Wine Escape Tour
    • Tasting world famous Pinot Noir
    • Dining at a vineyard restaurant
  • Wellington

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Te Papa Interactive National Museum
    • Wine match with three course meals
    • Boutique coffee shops
    • Cable car to Botanical Gardens