We drank all the wine in New Zealand!

When were we there
31 days, December 7-January 6

Where did we go
✈️ Flight from Delhi to Auckland
🏨 Grand Millennium Auckland
πŸš— Drove from Auckland to Whitianga
🏨 Admiralty Lodge Motel
πŸš— Drove from Whitianga to Rotorua
🏨 Quest Rotorua Central
πŸš— Drove from Rotorua to Lake Taupo
🏨 Gables Lakefront Motel
πŸš— Drove from Lake Taupo to Napier
🏨 Pebble Beach Motor Lodge
πŸš— Drove from Napier to Martinborough
🏨 The Martinborough Hotel
πŸš— Drove from Martinborough to Wellington
✈️ Flight from Wellington to Queenstown
πŸš— Drove from Queenstown to Wanaka
🏨 West Meadows Motel
πŸš— Drove from Wanaka to Mount Cook
🏨 The Hermitage
πŸš— Drove from Mount Cook to Queenstown
🏨 Novotel Queenstown Lakeside
✈️ Flight from Queenstown to Wellington
🏨 InterContinental Wellington
✈️ Flight from Wellington to Nelson
πŸš— Drove from Nelson to Blenheim
🏨 Chateau Marlborough
πŸš— Drove from Blenheim to Nelson
🏨 Chelsea Park Motor Lodge

Highlights
Hot water beach, Whitianga
Cathedral Cove
Lion park in Rotorua
Geothermal parks in Rotorua
Sailing on Lake Taupo
Hiking in Te Mata Park
Wine tasting in Napier: Elephant Sky, Craggy Range
Micro bar in Martinborough – fun locals
Black sand beaches and fur seals along the coast
Rippon winery in Wanaka
Mount Iron hike in Wanaka
Hiking in Hooker valley
Queenstown restaurants and shopping
Milford Sound Cruise
David and Tash’s wedding!
Wellington Botanic Gardens
Tasman lake boat ride. Got up close to Tasman glacier and a bunch of icebergs.
Hiked to Hooker Lake. Awesome views of Mt Cook and more icebergs.
Wine tasting around Wanaka and Queenstown. We really love the pinots from this region! They are earthy and mushroomy, which we love.
Christmas in Queenstown. Hundreds of people were out on the lake beach wearing santa hats and partying.
Small plane ride from Milford to Queenstown. We took a small, 6 passenger plane from Milford Sound. You get super close to the mountains. The ride was super bumpy. Pretty terrifying actually. We probably won’t get on a plane that small ever again :).
Te Papa museum
Wine tasting in Blenheim: Cloudy Bay, Rock Ferry, Giesen, St Clair
Great restaurants in Nelson! Hopgoods, Cod & Lobster
Wine tasting in Nelson: Neudorf

By the end of our time in New Zealand, I had to google β€œwhy shouldn’t I move to New Zealand?” Because I had no idea. It’s paradise.

We’d been to New Zealand before, mostly on the South Island. Our goal for this trip was to see more of the North, revisit some favorites, and hit as many of the wine regions as possible!

On the North Island: we landed in Auckland, did a day trip to Waiheke Island, and then drove south through the Coromandel Peninsula (Cathedral Cove), Rotorua, Taupo, Napier, and Martinborough.

Then we flew to Queenstown. We immediately drove to Wanaka for a few days. Then Mt Cook, and then back to Queenstown for Christmas. This part of New Zealand has super crazy landscape and terrain similar to Iceland!

We then flew back to Wellington for some friends’ wedding reception and New Years Eve.

For our last few days, we flew to Nelson to explore the Marlborough wine region. Overall our trip had a few more flights/jumps then needed because some roads were closed because of a recent large earthquake.

In all we visited five different wine regions in the country (Waiheke, Martinborough, Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, Otago) and we were very impressed by everything we tasted! In particular, we were surprised to see many wine makers producing sparking wine in the traditional method (in bottle fermentation). You can get a great bottle of sparking for $15-20 that’s comparable to a champagne!

What we loved: Cab/merlot blends from Waiheke. syrahs from Hawke’s Bay, sparking and pinots from Marlborough, pinots from Central Otago. In all it makes Napa and Sonoma feel a bit overrated, and definitely overpriced. We’ll definitely be drinking more NZ wines when we’re back!

New Zealand has incredible scenery, food, wine, people and hospitality is top notch.