The Wine Regions of New Zealand
Popularity of New Zealand Wineries
The wine regions of New Zealand are popular destinations for overseas travelers and local tourists.
According to a New Zealand Ministry of Tourism study, 507,500 tourists visit New Zealand wineries. This number was made up of 224,700 international tourists and 282,800 New Zealand locals. Most of the international guests came from Australia (27%), the United Kingdom (24%), and the United States (18%). Most domestic travelers hailed from New Zealand’s largest urban localities, Wellington (31%), Auckland (28%), and Canterbury (18%).
These figures represent a significance increase in international tourists, compared to 108,500 visiting New Zealand wineries five years earlier. In contrast, fewer New Zealanders are traveling to visit their local wineries.
The study showed the most popular wine regions with international tourists were Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay, and Auckland, New Zealand. Local tourists preferred visiting Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, and Marlborough.
The study also revealed much about the demographics and behavior of New Zealand’s wine tourists.
Most international wine tourists visiting New Zealand are 25-34 years, while local tourists tend to be much older with most aged over 45. Generally women are more likely to visit New Zealand wineries than men, with females making up 53% of international guests and 61% of local travelers.
International wine tourists also stay in New Zealand longer and spend more than other international travelers. International tourists, on average, stay in New Zealand for 25 nights, compared to other international guests who stay 20 nights. Their average vacation spend is NZ$4030, significantly more than other international tourists who spend around NZ$2850.
A trip to New Zealand’s wine regions is a great way to meet the locals, taste some fantastic wine, and purchase some bottles to take back home. But there are a few things you should know before visiting to make the most of your stay.
New Zealand is divided into two islands. Some tourists opt to visit both islands, while others choose to concentrate on just one. Whatever you decide, it’s important to allow enough time to really explore all the area has to offer. At least five days is recommended to see each island, and if you intend to see both you should stay for at least two weeks.
It’s also important to consider the time you wish to travel. Many regions close their cellar door during the winter months, so it’s wise to avoid visiting during this time. Many wineries are busiest during vacation periods and weekends. If you do not wish to deal with crowds, it’s worth visiting wineries during the working week.
If you do visit a crowded winery, make sure you step back from the bar once your taste has been poured. This allows the host to serve others while you are tasting your wine. You can then return to the bar when you are ready for another taste.
Most New Zealand wineries charge a small fee for tasting sessions. You are under no obligation to buy the wines you sample, so this fee helps cover the winery’s costs. If you do decide to purchase a bottle of wine, this fee is typically waived or refunded.
Winery staff host each tasting session. It is bad etiquette to help yourself to the wines on offer. Instead, wait for the host to pour your New Zealand wine. They will be able to tell you about the wine you are sampling and answer any questions you may have.
White wines of New Zealand should be sampled first, followed by reds, then dessert varieties. This ensures the different flavors do not interfere with one another. It’s fine to sample only the wines you’re interested in, but you may need to wait for others in the group to catch up before sampling your preferred wines.
If you are traveling as part of a large group, it’s good manners to call the winery before you arrive. This will ensure they can adequately accommodate your party, giving you the best tasting experience.