The Best Wine Tours Near Auckland for Incredible Tastings, Local Bites, and Gorgeous Views
New Zealand’s wine regions are spread throughout the country from the northernmost tip of the North Island to the southern part of the South Island, each boasting unique soils, climate, and grape growing conditions. The large and diverse Auckland region, one of the country’s oldest, was established in the early 20th century by winemakers from Croatia, England, and Lebanon. Auckland’s three subregions share volcanic, clay-rich soil, and moderate climate, while differences in weather and geography lead to distinct wines.
Waiheke Island, with a warm, dry microclimate, is home to about 30 wineries producing mainly red varietals including Cabernet blends, Merlot, and Syrah. Kumeu, the oldest of Auckland’s wine regions, features a warm coastal climate, ideal for Chardonnay and Merlot. The small region of Matakana, about an hour north of downtown Auckland, is known for its warm weather, rolling hills, and diverse wines that include Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris.
Organized tours are not only a great way to taste the wines of Auckland, but most also cover the history, environment, and agriculture of the regions. Many include visits to farms and include samples of local products like olive oil, chocolate, honey, cheese, or craft beers. Stops to take in scenic views along the way enhance the tours as well, and most are ideal for both avid and casual fans of wine.
Ananda Tours offers both private and group tours with some including lunch, ferry tickets (35 minutes from the mainland), and luxury transportation. With the “Essence of Waiheke Wine” tour, guests visit three wineries with a local guide. The exclusive “Wine Connoisseur’s Tour” lets visitors taste premium wines at three top producers and learn about them from the winemaker.
Waiheke Island Wine Tours offers group tours for up to 20 guests who can choose morning or afternoon with lunch or dinner included. Private tours are available, and a two-day “Indulgence” tour includes vineyard tours, tastings, micro-brewery and olive oil farm visits as well as accommodations, continental breakfast, and guide.
Waiheke Wine Tours provides “Twilight Tours” with two tastings and dinner after sunset as well as private tours with wine tastings with specially selected food pairings that include local cheeses, oysters (in season), olives, and honey. Guests can arrange completely custom tours that may also include tastings of wine, craft beer, gin, olive oil, or honey.
Waivino offers guided group tours for up to 10 guests for visits and tastings at at least three wineries with optional lunch. The “Decadent Degustation” tour includes gourmet food pairings, tastings of local oils and honey, and a private wine tasting experience. They also offer “Pinot and Pizza” with wood-fired pizza and wines from the eastern side of the island.
Bush and Beach offers a “Kumeu Wine Country” tour that includes tastings at three locally owned wineries including award-winning Soljans Vineyard where guests enjoy a Mediterranean style lunch with fresh seasonal produce. Views of the coast, beaches, and Tasman Sea lead to the final tasting at West Brook Winery, overlooking their duck pond and picnic area.
Wine Ventures visits three vineyards for tastings and tours on their half-day “Kumeu Wine Adventure,” available for both mornings and afternoons. Knowledgeable guides and small groups of no more than six guests make the tours comfortable and personal. Customized private tours are available for between two and six passengers.
Fine Wine Tours offers their “Kumeu Wine & Country Market” tour which includes tastings at three boutique wineries, vineyard lunch at Soljans, a sampling of tawny port and New Zealand cheeses, and ice cream during the visit to Boric Orchards Market.
NZ Wine Pro offers the “Matakana Coastal Getaway” wine tour that includes tastings, lunch, and a stop at Puhoi Cheese Factory to sample a variety of their cheeses. After enjoying wines, scenic views and a bit of New Zealand history, the tour finishes with a visit to “Chocolate Brown,” in the town of Warkworth for tastes of chocolate pralines and sea salted caramel.
Wine Trail Tours’ “East Coast” tour takes guests to three boutique wineries for tastings. The tour includes lunch in a vineyard overlooking the vines and a small lake as well as tastings of local cheeses, Manuka honey, and handmade chocolates.
Matakana Tours’ “Matakana Food & Wine Tour” visits three Matakana Coast vineyards, with an option to swap out a winery for a craft beer or cider brewery. The tour includes a selection of local food producers of cheese, honey, chocolate, oysters, olive oil, and ice cream. Flexible itineraries are available for private groups.
Read about the World’s Best Restaurants here.
This story originally appeared on travelandleisure.com.