grape escape

12 Day Food and Wine Tour of New Zealand:
including Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough and Central Otago, Queenstown, Waipara and Christchurch.

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12 Day New Zealand Food & Wine Tour Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough, Queenstown, Central Otago, Waipara and Christchurch

Testimonial by Bonnie Shane Dayton, Ohio 26 Apr 2010

We had a fabulous time on our Grape Escape wine tour in the South Island with Greg. My husband Guy and I, joined by our daughter Julie, who lives in Guam, spent 9 awesome days in New Zealand tasting wonderful wines, eating great food and having exciting adventures. I usually plan our trips abroad, myself, but I was so glad I chose Grape escape’s wine trail this time. Greg willingly worked with us to modify one of his regular advertised trips to meet all our interests and our time schedules. It was absolutely fabulous. Greg started us off in Marlborough at Mahi where we were treated to tank samples - something I had not done before on previous food/wine tours. Next it was “bubbles” at No. 1 – fun! By the end of the day we had visited 7 wineries, and the Makana chocolate factory. We ended the day with a wine/food degustation at Herzogs; great flavors and but tiny food samples were a disappointment to all of us. After more wine the next day, (loved Howard, at Gibson Bridge,) we headed to Abel Tasman National Park. My daughter talked me into a 10.5k hike, and I was really glad. It is a magical place The next day while Julie went kayaking , Greg, Guy and I took a water taxi to the park lodge for lunch. We were really fortunate to see a huge school of dolphins on the way. And that was just the start! After four days in the Marlborough/Abel Tasman area, we flew south to Queenstown. For five days we drank awesome wines, including some really good Pinot Noirs, and also had several fun adventures. Greg arranged for us to fly in a small plane and a Milford Sound cruise in the Fiord National park. Beautiful does not begin to describe it. We drank wine in many wonderful wineries in the Otago region, including Felton Road, Olssons, Mt. Difficulty and Chard Farm. For our final adventure we flew in an even smaller plane, landed in a meadow, hiked in Mt. Aspiry National Park and then took a jet boat back to our starting point. New Zealand is truly magical and we can’t thank Greg enough for showing us wonderful sights, cooking lamb on the “barbie” and green lip mussels, staying in beautiful lodgings everywhere we were, eating at outstanding restaurants, including The Butchery in Wanaka and the Boat Shed in Nelson. Thanks, also, for sharing many very tasty wines with us. Wish I could wriggle my eyebrows like Greg when we found a special wine. In fact, wish I could do it all again!

Day 1: Napier (Hawke's Bay)
Wine Tour


We start the day with a drive to the top of Te Mata Peak, taking in panoramic views of Hawke's Bay.

Mid morning we visit the Craggy Range winery for a tour of their winery and a barrel tasting. The Craggy Range philosophy is to select and source the very best vineyards in the country, plant them with only the vines that are perfectly suited to that terroir and then bottle them all as single estate wines.

We visit Brookfield's, a leading winery making premium wines. The Brookfield's wine making philosophy is to make fruit-driven wines that are enjoyable in their youth, go well with food and for those that can resist temptation, wines that respond well to cellaring. This winery is renowned for aromatic wines as well as full bodied Bordeaux blends and a hillside Syrah.

Midday we travel back out to the Gimblet Gravels and the Western Plains and dine at the Te Awa` Winery and Restaurant.

Cousins Alwyn and Brian continue a 100 year heritage and craft of the Corban family of wine makers at Ngatarawa in Hawke's Bay. Meet owner/wine maker Alwyn Corban and wine maker Peter Gough and enjoy the Ngatarawa wine makers reserve and Glazebrook range of wines.

Finally we visit Trinity Hill famous for Homage Syrah, Chardonnay and Bordeaux blends. This winery is at the forefront of experimenting with new varietals such as Pinot Gris and Tempranillo which both have a great future at this winery and in the Gimblet Gravels District.

Dinner tonight will be at the Terroir Restaurant Craggy Range.

Day 2: Napier (Hawke's Bay)
Art Deco


This morning will start with an escorted walk with Clarence Bertram St John Fitz Montague through the city of Napier Art Deco Capital of the World. Including visits to private homes built and furnished in the classic Art Deco style.

The afternoon is yours. Choose from a range of activities available.
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony
Local Golf Course
Wine Tour

The evening is yours

Day 3: Wellington
A Day Out In The Capital

Accommodation 1 Night Intercontinental

This morning we fly down to Wellington the nations capital. Spend the rest of the day enjoying everything this great city has to offer, excellent cafe's, shopping, cable car and New Zealand's National Museum Te Papa. Te papa (Our Place) is a ground breaking museum offering a look at the History of New Zealand and Maori Culture. The museum is full of Maori Treasures, interactive rides and national treasures.

We will spend the night at the Intercontinental Hotel in the center of Wellington.

The evening is yours or why not spend the night at the Karori Wildlife Reserve. See Kiwi and other New Zealand wildlife up close and in their natural environment.

Day 4: Marlborough
Herzog Culinary Class

Accommodation 2 Nights The Vintners Retreat


Early afternoon we arrive Herzog where Head chef Louis Schindler will be delighted to unlock the secrets of gourmet cuisine for enthusiastic novices. This hands-on workshop is a unique opportunity for all foodies to learn about the preparation and presentation of a fresh market 3-course gourmet menu that can easily be put into practice when entertaining at home. The class will be conducted in an informative and entertaining way in Herzogs state of the art European kitchen.

Tonight we enjoy a BBQ at The Vintners Retreat

Day 5: Blenheim (Marlborough)
Vineyard Tour Marlborough

The morning is yours. Late morning we pay a visit to winery Domaine Georges Michel where you will taste some of Marlborough's most stunning Pinot's, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blanc.

Lunch is next door at La Veranda.

Villa Maria is George Fistonich's award winning wine group founded in 1962. Villa is 100% Kiwi owned and has been New Zealand's most consistent wine award winner since the 80s. Taste wines from Marlborough as well as Gisborne and Hawke's Bay.

Next stop Cloudy Bay. No other Kiwi wine has found such a following, continually the most sought after Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Cloudy Bay was masterminded by David Hohnen and realized by Kevin Judd. Taste the well balanced Sauvignon that has put the winery on the world map in such a short time.

Wine maker Hatsch Kalberer has formed a dynamic team at Fromm to produce exceptionally full-flavored wines. The emphasis may be on Pinot Noir, but he produces an eclectic range of wines, with Sangiovese in the pipeline.

Framingham is an exceptional boutique winery producing fruity styled Sauvignon, Alsatian style Riesling and Gewürztraminer, watch out for the new release 2001 Montepulciano. Rex and Paula Brooke Taylor established this vineyard in 1981 only to release their wines under the Framingham label in 1994.

Wairau River has a fantastic range of aromatic wines and Sauvignon Blanc. Try their Stump Creek Pinot Noir soft cherry fruit and toffee flavours.

Tonight we dine at Gibbs Family Restaurant

Day 6: Nelson 02 FEB
Abel Tasman National Park


Accommodation 2 Nights 

We take an early morning flight to the beautiful region of Nelson arriving mid morning, allowing enough time to wander around the City of Nelson.

Mid day we dine at the Boat Shed Restaurant and Cafe. Their passion for food is reflected in their menus which combine Mediterranean with a Pacific Rim blend which come together in a fusion of food styles. The Boat Sheds team of chefs are currently experimenting with Kai Aotearoa (traditional Maori cuisine) and believe that New Zealand is entering an indigenous food revolution which they see as becoming more prolific in restaurants here.

After lunch we travel to our accommodation in the heart of the Abel Tasman park taking time to stop and check out local food producers and arts and crafts.

This evening is yours.

Day 7: Nelson
Abel Tasman National Park


Take time out and explore the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park visiting pristine beaches and bays. Choose from walking, a boat cruise or a guided sea kayaking trip with Wilson's Experiences Abel Tasman.

This evening we dine at the Boathouse

Day: 8 Queenstown

Accommodation 3 Nights Villa Del Lago

We take an early morning flight to Queenstown arriving mid morning. We spend the rest of the morning exploring Queenstown. This afternoon we travel out to Arrowtown an historic gold mining town and a great place to spend the afternoon shopping and exploring local history.

Tonight we dine at The Post Masters House Arrowtown. This is such a delightful restaurant that i just cant keep away whenever I go to Arrowtown.

Day: 9 Queenstown
Wine Tour

First we explore the wineries of the Gibston Valley. Amisfield Lake Hayes' is stunning new winery. Taste wine maker Jeff Sinnott's delicious Rieslings and Pinot's.

Next stop Peregrine Wines. Their prime focus is on growing premium Pinot Noir and white varieties from their estate managed vineyards. These are all meticulously hand-tended and farmed under a sustainable philosophy. Peregrine has its vineyards in the two top regions of the area, Gibston and Cromwell. These areas typically produce intensely flavored wines of finesse and elegance with the predominantly schist soils adding mineral complexity.

We continue on further up the valley to Bannockburn and for lunch at Mount Difficulty and taste some of their award winning Pinot Noir. The views of Cromwell and its surrounds from this winery are nothing short of stunning.

After Lunch we visit Felton Road the vineyards of Bannockburn are nestled into small macro climates totally surrounded by high mountains, many of which are snowcapped all year round. Though the location is on the edge of sustainable viticulture these macro climates consistently combine hot days, cool nights and long dry autumns: perfect for the creation of fine Felton Road Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.

Finally we make our way down to Cromwell and visit Two Paddocks a vineyard owned by actor Sam Neil. Two Paddocks is a family vineyard that specializes in premium quality Pinot Noir wine. Sam is a great believer in Terroir which is evident in all his wines. Two Paddock vines are planted in two different locations around Alexander and one in the Gibston Valley and each vineyard is prized for the its unique grape growing potential.

The evening is yours

Day 10: Queenstown 08 FEB
Milford Sound

Milford Sound is situated on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is a world renowned area of extraordinary beauty. Milford Sound is actually named incorrectly a sound, it actually is a true Fiord, which measures 12 km long and is up to 320 meters deep. The Fiord receives an average yearly rainfall of approximately 7.5m (300 inches) because it is situated on one of the world's most formidable coastlines, which is subject to rapidly changing weather conditions. The weather is famous for its ability to deteriorate or improve within a very short period of time. These dramatic weather patterns result in some of nature's most amazing scenery transformations, especially when viewed from one of our scenic Milford Sound flights. At any time on the Fiords visitors may see seals, dolphins, penguins and other New Zealand native wildlife.

Tonight we dine at The Bath House. This is probably one of the most delightful locations and restaurants you will ever find. Situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with stunning lake and mountain views. Menu

Day 11: Christchurch

Christchurch City

Accommodation 2 Nights The George Hotel


Early morning we fly to Christchurch City. The  English garden city of Christchurch is treasured by locals and all who visit. Our city tour begins with a brief orientation and city highlight overview. During your tour, you will see Cathedral Square, Victoria Square, Thomas Edmonds former the Band rotunda (now a restaurant) and the Avon River, Town Hall, the Floral Clock, Law Courts, Provincial Chambers, Christ's College Museum, Botanical Gardens, Arts Center, Worcester Boulevard and the Bridge of Remembrance.

Mid morning we take a punt ride along the Avon River. We start from the historic Antigua Boat Sheds you will drift past the quaint Curator's House restaurant, then through Hagley Park and the leafy Botanic Gardens. The ride goes up past the Woodland Bridge and the Bandsmen's Memorial Rotunda. Along the river you see a variety of wildlife: swans, scaup ducks, paradise shell ducks, Grey and mallard ducks, eels and trout.

Lunch will be at the Antigua Boat Shed Cafe. You will have the rest of the afternoon to explore and enjoy the beautiful city as you wish. Explore Canterbury Museum or take a stroll though Hagley Park.

This evening we dine at Saggio di Vino. Owners Lisa and Yommi believe in cooking seasonally, sourcing the freshest produce from asparagus and berries in summer to oysters and porcini in autumn. And of course there are the truffles – a rare treat in the cool winter months and incredibly sought after.

Day 12: Waipara
Wine Tour


Waipara is renowned for its Riesling's and spicy Pinot Noir's. With its predominantly chalky, loamy and enriched limestone soil, the wines from this region display rich, intense, full-bodied wines.

Established in 1986, Daniel Schuster Wines Ltd is a small, quality- focused producer of classically structured wines with individual character that reflects the unique growing conditions of their Estate Vineyards.  I love Daniels wines they express everything a good wine should be. They are made to age gracefully but still quite drinkable now my particular favorite is his Riesling a variety that just excels in Waipara.

Pegasus Bays intention, is to give their diners a total food and wine experience. They have an emphasis on freshness and simplicity, using predominantly locally grown ingredients. The menu is created around their wine list, with each dish matched with a suggested wine. Last time we dined at Pegasus we enjoyed the beef with a Pegasus Bay 1991 Cabernet Merlot blend it was outstanding and an amazing match with our food.

We spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Waipara Valley.

This evening we will dine at the world-renowned, "Pescatore Restaurant" located in our hotel.

Pescatore has a commitment to excellence and has won international recognition for its inspirational cuisine and fine Pacific Rim dinning! I am a big fan of the Evolution Menu a nine course, degustation gastronomic delight, you will need to loosen your belt for this. Bon Appétit!

Email us for more information or bookings

County Hotel

Tour Price:

$7940 NZD
Per Person
Min number 4
Max number 8

Craggy Range

Departure Dates:

Tours depart on the first Monday of every month

Tour Inclusions:

12 nights accommodation
All meals
Dinners created by top chefs
4 VIP wine tours & tasting
Tours & visits to cultural attractions

Fly Cruise Milford Sound

1 National Park walk

Jet Boat Ride
Air transportation 

from North to South Island
All transportation on tour
Wine & Culinary tour guide

Clarence Bertram St John Fitz Montague


Karori Wildlife Reserve



Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman Walk

Tour Highlights

Luxury accommodation
VIP Wine visits & tasting hosted by leading vintners
Hands-on cooking class & culinary demonstration with a top regional chef
Food & Wine pairing dinners
Milford Sound

Fiordland National Park

Abel Tasman National Park

Art Deco
Wine and culinary expert local guides
Meet enchanting epicurean New Zealanders
Fantastic scenery


Peregrine Wines

Sam Neil - Two Paddocks

Milford Sound

Siberian Experience

Wilkins Valley