The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is a self-drive touring route connecting 3 wine producing regions, the capital city, scenic coastlines and rural towns. If you have not explored State Highway 2 between Hawke's Bay and Wellington then this is a classic NZ roadie! It's called the Wine Trail because it joins up three wine regions - but it also takes you to breweries, farmer's markets, olive groves, chocolate stores, bakeries and great restaurants. If you want to discover New Zealand's best wine and food experiences this is for you.
Taste your way along the signposted trail (watch for the grapes) as you travel from Hawke's Bay down to Marlborough. Nestled at the heart are Wairarapa wineries. At the very heart of the rail Wairarapa is home to Martinborough wine village, Gladstone and the vineyards of upper Masterton, stop in and get a taste of our towns.
Where there's good wine, there's good food; eating at Wairarapa restaurants and cafes is a treat with plenty of excellent choices.
This itinerary assumes you're travelling north from Wellington along State Highway 2. If you're heading the other way just flip it around.
Follow your nose to C'est Cheese
Featherston is the first town after the Remutaka Hill and it's home to one of the best cheese shops in NZ, C'est Cheese. Get your antipasto platter sorted with NZ cheeses, cured meats, chutneys, olives and did we mention cheese.
Explore the family-friendly Fell Locomotive Museum and see the steam train that once hauled passengers over the Remutakas.
Not only does Featherston have top notch cheese, they're NZ's only Booktown. While you're here browse the the bookshops - you're bound to leave with something interesting.
Drive 20 minutes onto..
Cycle the vines in Martinborough Wine Village:
The wine from our Martinborough vineyards is produced via hard work and passion. Here these mostly family run vineyards are nurtured to produce only the best resulting in wineries filled with handcrafted drops of liquid gold.
Cycling the vines is a day well spent as far as we're concerned. Cycling is a great way to visit the cellar doors. The cycling is easy and distances short. Hire a bike or take a tour with Green Jersey.
Day tours of Martinborough cellar doors or working vineyard tours give a great insight into what it takes to produce some of the best wine in the world. Check out some Martinborough Tours here.
Only 15 minutes and you're in..
One of the prettiest towns you'll see known for its great food and sophisticated shopping. The main street is lined with cute Victorian buildings and historic trees. Pop in for a tasting of extra-ordinary chocoate at Schoc Chocolates and don't having a browse at the owner operated shops filled with distinctive products. Try these for starters:
Just 10 minutes up the road is..
Carterton home of our Gladstone Vineyards
In the rolling hills are Gladstone's vineyards and half the pleasure is the short drive on quiet country roads between these wineries. Check out Dakins Road for tastings on the weekend.
You can't go past the award-winning Clareville Bakery, stop for one of their famous cronuts, pies or pastry - delicious!
If you are feeling like mixing up the different brews, give Regent 58's craft beer a go.
Another 10 minutes and you're in..
Perfect for the whole family with Queen Elizabeth Park, Henley Lake and Aratoi Museum.
Stop in for a well deserved and perfecly brewed coffee at Don Luciano Cafe & Coffee Roastery and if it's time for dinner take a look at our top spots.
Just north of Masterton is a small community of vineyards in Opaki, along Matahiwi, Paierau and Loopline Roads. Well established and boutique in production these Masterton wineries are tough to beat! Le Gra Vineyard is a must visit winery that puts an Irish twist on things.
Keep on heading north to reach Hawkes Bay. Here are some top spots to break up the drive: