Nelson Wine Tours
Nelson is located on the northernmost tip of New Zealand’s South Island. It is an area of contradictions, with golden sand beaches to enjoy during the warm summer days, and snow capped mountain ranges in winter.
The mountains shelter the region’s wineries from the rain and the heat of the summer sun. Cool climate grapes thrive in Nelson.
Its friendly locals enjoy the finer things in life. Many potters, painters, foodies, and wine lovers call Nelson home.
Nelson is famous for its cool climate wines, including elegant chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, rieslings, and warm pinot noirs. The easy drinking New Zealand wines will satisfy novice wine buffs and connoisseurs.
Nelson is one of New Zealand’s smaller wine regions, but its quality means it should not be overlooked. Its size makes it convenient for tourists, as it’s possible to visit all the wineries in a single day. The following vineyards should be on any travelers “must see” list.
546 Main Road, Hope
Brightwater Vineyards is a family-owned vineyard, specializing in sauvignon blancs, chardonnays, rieslings, pinot noirs, and merlots. Their signature wine is the Brightwater Gold, a sweet dessert white made from botrytized sauvignon blanc grapes. You can taste it, and the rest of the Brightwater Vineyards range, at the cellar door. It’s open daily from October to March.
Neudorf Road, Upper Moutere
Neudorf Vineyards has an international reputation for creating stunning wines, including one of the best chardonnays in New Zealand. It’s also earned global praise for its pinot noirs, rieslings, sauvignon blancs, and pinot gris. Guests can taste these wines at the cellar door, which is open daily from September until the end of May. Visitors with time to spare are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the vineyard’s views of the Moutere Valley.
Redwood Road, Appleby
Seifried Wines is one of the oldest wineries in Nelson, with its first vines planted in 1973. The winery has since grown to become one of the largest in the area. Seifried Wines has won international prizes for its chardonnays, but its sauvignon blancs, rieslings, gewurztraminers, cabernet sauvignons, and pinot noirs are also worth a taste. Seifried Wines’ friendly staff welcome visitors to its cellar door all year round.
Te Mania Estate
Pughs Road, RD1, Richmond
For such a small boutique vineyard, Te Mania offers a surprisingly diverse range of wines. Guests can taste their rieslings, chardonnays, pinot noirs, merlots, and more at the cellar door. Its open daily, and features the complete range of Te Mania wines alongside bottles from Richmond Plains. It’s worth spending a little time here to enjoy all the facilities, which include the Grape Escape Cafe, craft shops, an art gallery, and children’s playground.
Sunrise Road, RD1, Upper Moutere
Kahurangi Estate is a small winery specializing in handmade wines. Their range features chardonnays, rieslings, and pinot varieties. The cellar door is open daily for tasting sessions, which cost NZ$2 per person. This fee is refunded for guests purchasing Kahurangi Wines. Peckish travelers can enjoy an alfresco lunch in the cafe, or local produce at the delicatessen.
Many wine tourists visit Nelson because it is close to the Marlborough wine region. The most popular route is Queen Charlotte Drive, a scenic road connecting Blenheim to Nelson via Havelock. Drivers will enjoy taking in the views of the bays of Marlborough Sound as they make their way to Nelson.
Travelers can also access Nelson by air. Air New Zealand connects Nelson Regional Airport with Auckland, Christchurch, Rotorua, and Queenstown (via Christchurch). The airport is roughly a 20-minute drive from the city center. A taxi from the airport costs approximately NZ$20, while the airport shuttle bus costs NZ$15 for one person, and NZ$2 for each additional person.
As the Nelson wine region is small, it’s easy for tourists to drive themselves around the vineyards. But travelers who’d prefer to leave the car at home may like to consider a wine tour. Bay Tours and JJ’s Quality Tours offer tours to wineries, scenic locations, and local galleries.
Nelson offers a wide range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. The hotels like the Monaco Resort and Rutherford Hotel are of international standard, while hostels including Paradiso Backpackers and Hat Trick Lodge offer affordable rooms for backpackers and young travelers.
However, the best places to really soak up Nelson’s picturesque countryside are the bed and breakfasts and homestays. The friendly owners of charming B&Bs like Heron’s Rest and Ora Bed and Breakfast make their guests feel like one of the family. Luxurious mansions including Wairepo House and Edenhouse cost a bit more, but they’re so stunning travelers with money to spare won’t mind.
Every February – The Twilight Wine and Food Fest features local wines and beers, gourmet seafood, spit-roasted pigs, and live music. It is held at the Garin College Fields in Richmond.
Every February – The Brightwater Wine and Food Festival is a great day out for the whole family. Adults will enjoy tasting local wines and beers, and cuisine from some of the area’s best restaurants, while little ones will love the children’s entertainment. Pre-booked tickets are NZ$12, or NZ$15 at the gate, and kids under 12 are free.