Wine and dine your way through New Zealand with these magnificent locations: here is No. 15 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
When your guide has a few decades of working in the local wine scene, you’re guaranteed a good time exploring Hawke’s Bay, especially when a full-day tour takes in New Zealand’s most historic vineyards and a modern and innovative urban wine-tasting experience.
Bespoke itineraries with Prinsy’s Tours harness the knowledge of its expert guides, often offering the opportunity to go behind the scenes and meet with the region’s winemakers. Where you visit depends on your interests, and wine- and food-focused tours with Prinsy’s could also include Napier/Ahuriri’s historic Art Deco architecture, visiting organic orchards, and coastal views from atop leviathan Te Mata Peak.
An essential stop is Mission Estate, established by French Catholic missionaries in 1851, and New Zealand’s oldest winery. A meandering tree-lined driveway leads to the restored hilltop seminary that is now Mission’s restaurant and cellar door. It’s a fine place for a relaxed lunch, with its Fête Hand Harvested Cuvée a popular wine across the Bay during summer.
Nearby, Church Road is also an important part of the region’s winemaking heritage, with its Verde Cuisine restaurant proudly showcasing seasonal Hawke’s Bay produce. Find out if any of the TOM series of wines are available, only produced after exceptional vintages, and named after Hawke’s Bay winemaking pioneer, Tom McDonald.
Before leaving, ask your guide to show you around Church Road’s often-overlooked underground wine museum, a surprising collection with centuries-old Greek amphorae and antique European winemaking miscellany. From the Greenmeadows location of Mission Estate and Church Road, tours often detour to the town of Havelock North, packed with good cafes and restaurants around its leafy village square. With views of the majestic profile of Te Mata Peak, Craggy Range’s cellar door and garden restaurant is another good option for lunch, and the eatery is perennially recognised as one of the country’s best by the authoritative Cuisine magazine.
A short drive away alongside the Tukituki River, Black Barn Vineyard’s blend of rustic architecture and a fresh and hip vibe makes for a good spot to try its chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
From Black Barn, it’s an easy drive back to Havelock North and the Smith & Sheth Heretaunga Wine Studio. At this urban cellar door, a private wine-tasting includes sampling top varietals straight from the barrel. It’s an intriguingly indulgent way to discover wines from Smith & Sheth CRU, Pyramid Valley and Lowburn Ferry, and 170 years after Mission Estate’s first vines, inviting proof that New Zealand’s oldest wine region continues to innovate.