New Zealand: Pristine landscapes, beautiful wines
Its remote location demands a long stay. But, with its breathtaking scenery, homely accommodation, and exciting wines, many visitors would choose to stay in the land of the long white cloud permanently.
New Zealand is not somewhere you visit for a weekend. The obvious reason is that its remote position in the world—a 24-hour flight from London, or a 20-hour flight from New York City—makes it one of the more distant destinations for many readers of this supplement.
Not that this very remoteness isn’t an attraction for the more than three million tourists who make their way to New Zealand each year, or for the increasing numbers of émigrés who have made “the land of the long white cloud” their home in recent years. There’s a feeling that the country’s two islands offer a peaceful contrast to the frenetic life found in the USA or Europe.
And in many ways that feeling is justified: with a population of just 4.8 million in a country comparable in size to Italy (population 62 million), space is not at a premium. More importantly, that space is defined by great natural beauty. From the sailing mecca of the Bay of Islands, a four-hour drive north of the country’s biggest city, Auckland, to the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps, forming the jagged spine of the South Island, New Zealand is a country that does breathtaking views in large gasps.
Exploring nature and wildlife is also high on visitors’ list of things to do, with whale-and-dolphin-watchers heading for Kaikoura, an easy drive south from Marlborough’s main town, Blenheim. Others come for the glowworms and the unique birdlife that goes with being such an isolated spot—where else could creatures such as the flightless kiwi survive and thrive?
There’s also plenty of opportunity to get your penguin fix the farther south you head in New Zealand. Forget the aquarium: this country still has three wild species of penguin, including the world’s smallest—the kororā, or little blue penguin—and they can be spotted in a number of locations, including near the university town of Dunedin or on Stewart Island.
The country’s waters don’t just offer the chance to spot sea life; surf breaks dot the coastline, whether along the black-sand beaches of western Auckland—made famous by the triple-Oscar-winning movie The Piano—or in the remote waters of Gisborne. While the more sedate pastimes of sailing, golfing, and walking (known as “tramping”) are readily available, New Zealand has made its name as the place for high-octane activities. Want to jump off a bridge with a piece of elastic tied to your ankles? They’ve got that covered—and hopefully your travel insurance has, too. Want to raft down rushing river rapids, jump out of a plane, take a helicopter to a remote mountain and ski down, or fly down a zip-line? Head to Central Otago—later on, you can settle your frayed nerves with a glass of powerful Pinot Noir.
The heady mix of extreme sports and a once-weak New Zealand dollar made the country a magnet for backpackers, but now an increasing number of operators are catering for high-net-worth individuals: fine dining, luxury lodges, and helicopter hire are all commonplace for those who have the means to enjoy them. Play a round of golf overlooking the Pacific Ocean at luxury resort Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay, then relax with a spicy Syrah after the 18th-hole; or fall in love with Wharekauhau Lodge, as the now-owner, US wine mogul Bill Foley, did in 2009 while sampling the savory Pinot Noirs from nearby Martinborough.
You don’t come to New Zealand to visit the cities. Neither the capital, Wellington, nor the country’s most populous urban center, Auckland, can really compete with London, New York, or Paris when it comes to historic buildings, high culture, or even retail therapy. Even so, it is inevitable that you’ll fly into one or the other city during your stay. Overnighters should certainly take in Te Papa, the country’s national museum on Wellington’s waterfront, for a succinct introduction to the nation’s history and culture. The compact city is also a hotbed of coffee that will have you reeling off superlatives, as well as fine food and hidden bars. If you’re pressed for time, give Auckland’s CBD a miss and jump on a commuter boat—or hire your own—to Waiheke Island. Once a place mainly for hippies, it is now a hideaway for Auckland’s millionaires and home to ever-improving wine producers, including Man O’ War, Destiny Bay, and Stonyridge.
And when you pack your bags to come here, remember that homegrown band Crowded House weren’t joking when they sang Four Seasons in One Day—pack for all conditions, and don’t forget the SPF 50 sunscreen. Kiwis have long been reminded to “slip, slop, slap,” meaning slip on a shirt, slop on the sunscreen, and slap on a hat, due to the high levels of UV radiation. Many tourists have scoffed at warnings by locals, only to end up red raw within a couple of hours' exposure. The lobster look has never been en vogue—unless it’s on a plate with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
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Paroa Bay Winery
Northland might not be the first place you think of when it comes to fine New Zealand wine, but the natural beauty of the Bay of Islands makes this a must-visit destination. The idyllic setting of Paroa Bay’s cottages and jaw-dropping views from its new luxury retreat, Tarapunga, mean the Bay of Islands isn’t just a destination for the sailing community.
31 Otamarua Road, Russell 0271 | +64 9 403 7928 | www.paroabay.com
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
An elegant lodge, sitting atop cliffs that plunge 800ft (245m) to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, Cape Kidnappers is a secluded luxury retreat, home to one of the country’s best golf courses. Its cellar is one of the most comprehensive in the country, offering mature vintages of many fine regional wines.
446 Clifton Road, Te Awanga, Hawke's Bay 4180 | +64 6 875 1900 | www.capekidnappers.com
This new four-bedroom private lodge is nestled beneath the statuesque Te Mata peak, offering a private chef, in-lodge wine tasting, swimming pool, and trout fishing in the Tuki Tuki River. The addition of this wine lodge to the Art Deco capital of New Zealand, Hawke’s Bay, puts the region firmly on the must-visit map for wine tourists.
253 Waimarama Road, Havelock North 4294 | +64 6 873 7126 | www.craggyrange.com
The Marlborough Lodge
Built as a convent in 1901, the elegant timber frame has since been moved ten minutes' drive from its original home in Blenheim and now sits in 6ha (15 acres) of private parkland. Take in the views from the balcony of your suite, and join the head gardener on a daily tour of the gardens and vineyard.
776 Rapaura Road, Rapaura 7273 | +64 3 570 5700 | www.themarlboroughlodge.co.nz
Admire the panoramic views from this luxury villa at Mahana Estate, where vines roll down the hillside toward the twinkling waters of Tasman Bay and the snowcapped peaks of Mount Arthur. A blend of steel, glass, and wood, the building is as beautiful as the vistas it provides, and its American owner, businessman and hotelier Glenn Schaeffer, has adorned the walls with his private collection of contemporary art.
243 Old Coach Road, Upper Moutere, Tasman 7152 | +64 3 543 2817 | www.mahanavilla.com
If you can get a booking at this restaurant—which is increasingly difficult now that ex-Noma chef Jacob Kear is heading up the kitchen—sink into one of its leather booths for the evening and prepare to be lavished with 13 courses of dégustation delight. It is possibly the finest restaurant in New Zealand.
33 Sale Street, Freemans Bay, Auckland 1010 | +64 9 358 1702 | www.clooney.co.nz
Floor-to-ceiling windows provide views out to the Pacific shoreline, which ebbs and flows just meters from the vineyard’s edge, and the majestic Cape Kidnappers peninsula, a birdwatcher’s paradise. The restaurant pairs fine dining with the German-owned winery’s restrained whites and savory reds.
86 Clifton Road, Haumoana 4172 | +64 6 872 6060 | www.elephanthill.co.nz
Being named the country’s best winery restaurant on several occasions—and being the closest cellar door to Queenstown— makes Amisfield very popular. Enjoy fine dining, traditional-method sparkling wine, and broody Pinot Noir in its modern building while gazing over Lake Hayes and up to Coronet Peak.
10 Lake Hayes Road, Queenstown 9371 | +64 3 442 0556 | www.amisfield.co.nz
For more restaurants with award-winning wine lists click here.
Man O’ War
A strong contender for the most idyllic setting for a cellar door and winery, Man O’ War bay is tucked away in the far east of Waiheke Island. While away a lazy afternoon on the lawns, cooling off in the clear waters. Access for vehicles is via a winding, dusty track, while boat owners drop anchor and row ashore—or you can arrive in style by seaplane.
725 Man O' War Bay Road, Waiheke Island, Auckland 1971 | +64 9 372 9678 | www.manowar.co.nz
Tim and Judy Finn’s pioneering boutique Nelson winery has made a huge impression with its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which can be enjoyed onsite in organized wine tastings that cater for individuals or groups of up to eight people.
138 Neudorf Road, Nelson 7175 | +64 3 543 2643 | www.neudorf.co.nz
Visit the birthplace of Central Otago’s modern wine industry. It was founded in 1990 by Irish journalist Alan Brady, one of the pioneers of Central Otago’s wine revolution. Arrive early, before the crowds, to tour European-style caves hewn from the rock, and hire bicycles to explore the area’s goldmining past and vinous present.
1820 State Highway 6, Gibbston 9371 | +64 3 442 6910 | www.gibbstonvalley.com
A leading player in the Waipara Valley, with an award-winning portfolio including Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay available to taste in beautiful grounds with a natural amphitheater, wetlands, lakes and a wine-centered onsite restaurant.
263 Stockgrove Road, Amberley 7482 | +64 3 314 6869 | www.pegasusbay.com
Owned by multinational drinks company Pernod Ricard, Brancott’s Heritage Centre is an impressive glass construction, perched above the first block of Sauvignon Blanc vines planted in the region. In addition to the cellar door and restaurant, the winery has a partnership with Marlborough Heritage Falcon Trust and visitors can watch displays of native birds of prey in flight.
2 Brancott Road, Blenheim 7272 | +64 3 520 6975 | www.brancottestate.com
Cloudy Bay’s leafy cellar door comes alive in summer, when the croquet and petanque sets are laid out on the lawns. Enjoy a glass of iconic Sauvignon Blanc and some freshly shucked oysters, book a vineyard tour by helicopter followed by a tutored tasting, or a day trip aboard the estate’s yacht on the Marlborough Sounds.
230 Jacksons Road, Blenheim 7240 | +64 3 520 9147 | www.cloudybay.co.nz
New Zealand’s first underground rock cellar lies 65ft (20m) below a precipitous hill that climbs above the camper-van-filled road to the stunning Marlborough Sounds. Its co-founder is German, and in Marlborough’s cool climate, it’s no surprise that the winery excels at aromatic white varieties.
Koromiko, Blenheim 7273 | +64 3 573 7035 | www.johanneshof.co.nz
Te Mata Estate
Te Mata is one of the oldest family-owned wineries in New Zealand, an icon of Hawke’s Bay, and responsible for some of New Zealand’s most in-demand wines. Book in advance for a private tasting tour.
349 Te Mata Road, Parkvale, Havelock North 4294 | +64 6 877 4399 | www.temata.co.nz