Classic NZ Wine Trail - For all the Family

Published: 07/24/2012 by Classic New Zealand Wine Trail

Let the journey begin

The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail serves up unforgettable wine and food experiences along the signposted 380km (240 mile) route.

The journey takes you on a drive through regions accounting for more than 80% of New Zealand’s wine production. Combined with the farmers’ markets, eateries and artisan food producers you’ll encounter along the way, the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail offers New Zealand’s most memorable wine and food experiences.

For all the Family

Spend quality time with the family as you explore the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. There are lots of activities aimed at children as well as attractions the whole family will enjoy.

Day 1. Hawke's Bay

Hawke's Bay

Get as close to the ocean as you can without getting your feet wet at the National Aquarium of New Zealand. Travel beneath the enormous oceanarium or take a behind the scenes tour to discover the abundant marine life living at the aquarium.

Explore that fascinating world of the humble honeybee in a modern and interactive environment at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre.

Travel by vintage tractor and trailer on a unique and fun eco-experience tour with local experience guides to visit the largest, most accessible, mainland gannet colony in the world.

Enjoy an interactive show at historic Clifton Bay Woolshed and learn how everything works on the farm before enjoying something to eat the Clifton Bay Café.

Explore the wild side of wine country at Mountain Valley Adventure Lodge, offering adventure activities for kids of all ages from white water rafting and kayaking through to horse trekking.

Finish your day with a relaxing soak in the hot pools overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the Ocean Spa complex.

Stop at...

  • Laserforce step into the future with live action fun and excitement for all ages.
  • Par 2 Golf for a round of mini-golf on the two courses located right on the beach front.
  • Get lost in A Maze 'n' Fun and then have fun finding your way back out again (open 26 December to end of April each year).
  • Help hand feed the animals at the safe, clean environmnet of the Hawke's Bay Farmyard Zoo.
  • Play in Hawke's Bays largest indoor adventure playground at Jungle Junction.
  • Visit one of the world's largest '00' gauge model railways and Napier's beloved 60 year old Lilliput Railway at Trainworld & Lilliput.
  • Stop for a famous Rush Munro's ice cream at Lick This on Marine Parade or at Rush Munro's Ice Cream Garden in Hastings.
  • Treat yourself at Birdwoods Gallery & Sweet Shop and fill a tin, jar or your tummy.

Day 2. Hawke’s Bay to Wairarapa

Hawke's Bay to Tararua Hawke's Bay to Tararua
Take a leisurely drive along State Highway 2 following the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail signs.

Stop at...

  • Spend time at Pukaha Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre, a nationally and internationally recognised captive breeding facility for a number of threatened bird species including Kiwi. Pukaha Mt Bruce is home to Manukura, the very rare white kiwi - you can see her in the Kiwi house. Check out the Kiwi theatre, the interactive gallery and stroll through beautiful native bush

Day 3. Wairarapa

Tararua to Wairarapa Tararua to Wairarapa
Drive an easy circuit through farmland to outlying vineyard clusters and charming small villages.

Visit Stonehenge Aotearoa, near Carterton, an adaptation of the mysterious 4,000 year-old monument on England’s Salisbury Plains, has been especially designed for the Southern Hemisphere.   Learn how people of all ancient cultures – used the sun, moon and stars to devise calendars, work out the seasons for planting, hunting and other activities, and navigate across oceans.

Stop at...

  • Waiohine Gorge, south of Carterton, a popular picnic and hiking destination, walk across one of the longest swing bridges in New Zealand
  • From Masterton drive to the popular beach destinations of Riversdale and Castlepoint for superb scenery, fishing, surfing and summer-patrolled beaches.
  • Drive to Cape Palliser where you will find a variety of adventures. Walk to the intriguing Putanguirua Pinnacles, see the fishing settlement of Ngawi, spy on the North Island’s largest colony of fur seals, and walk the 258 steps of the historic Cape Palliser lighthouse for an incredible view. Enjoy fish and chips at the Lake Ferry Hotel with views across Lake Onoke.
  • Walk or mountain bike the Rimutaka Incline which is located a few kilometres outside Upper Hutt. Take a torch for the tunnels and plenty of food and water. This is suitable for older children who have the fitness for a full days walking or several hours biking.
  • Visit Featherston’s Fell Museum to see the last surviving example of a Fell Engine.
  • Ride Quad bikes with Wairarapa Quads starting from Martinborough in Palliser Bay.
  • Have a puzzling fun day at Puzzlewood in Greytown
  • Explore the Cobblestones Early Settlers Museum, Main Street, Greytown

Day 4. Wairarapa to Wellington

Wairarapa to Wellington  Wairarapa to Wellington
Allow ninety minutes for the brief drive to New Zealand’s compact capital city, dubbed coolest little capital in the world by Lonely Planet.

Spend time exploring Wellington waterfront. Many activities are based around the waterfront from harbour cruises, strolling from Queens Wharf to Oriental Bay, and swimming at the golden sand beach to rollerblading and rock-climbing for the more adventurous. Many prefer to grab a coffee or gelato and sit back and enjoy beautiful views of the Wellington Harbour and cityscape.

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films showcased Wellington’s stunning natural scenery on the world stage. Explore the film locations from “The Lord of the Rings” on half or full day tours (suggestions right).

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is an entertaining way to find out about New Zealand, arguably one of the ebst interactive museums in the world. Kids will love the interactive rides, the 3D Colossal Squid and uncovering dinosaurs in Bush City.

Visit the Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience, a world first conservation attraction and home to some of New Zealand’s rarest and most endangered wildlife and is just 10 minutes from downtown Wellington. Free shuttles leave the i-SITE Information Centre on the half hour. It’s a great spot for a picnic lunch or take a Sanctuary by Night escorted tour at dusk and try to spot Kiwi.

Catch the historic cable car from Lambton Quay to the Wellington Botanic Garden for great views and photos over the city.  At the top Carter Observatory is a huge hit with families - planetarium shows occur on the hour and the evhibition area is hands on.

Take a Seal Coast Safari across the rugged and remote south coast of Wellington.   On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the South Island. The South Coast is even more inspiring on a blustery day! 

Check out Wellington Zoo.  Try kiwi spotting in the nocturnal house or experience a personal encounter with one of the animals such as the red pandas, lions, giraffes and cheetahs.

Wellington puts its hills to great use with fantastic mountain biking. There’s great tracks on Mount Victoria, Battle Hill Farm Forest near Porirua, out to the Pencarrow Lighthouse from Eastbourne or a dedicated mountain bike park at Makara.


Stop at...

  • In addition to Te Papa, there are a number of other museums and galleries to visit:
  • Museum of Wellington preserves Wellington’s social history and maritime heritage.
  • Take the Day’s Bay ferry out to Matiu Somes Island in Wellington harbor – formerly a POW camp and quarantine station.

Day 5. Wellington to Marlbo

Wellington to Marlborough
Cruise across the Cook Strait to Marlborough.

Venture out into the renowned Queen Charlotte Track which leads walkers and cyclists over 71km into the Marlborough Sounds. There are a wide range of guided and unguided options available for all fitness levels from 2 hours to 5 days.

Swim with the dolphins then take a guided walk on Motuara Island bird sanctuary in Queen Charlotte Sound with Dolphin Watch Ecotours

Day 6. Marlborough

Marlborough  Marlborough

Visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim, which brings to life the heroes of World War One aviation with an unparalleled collection and dramatic lifelike scenes. World renowned Weta Workshop and Wingnut Films, responsible for Lord of the Rings, created the sets which make this attraction world class and of interest to anyone! Explore the vineyards with Wine Tours by Bike. 

A choice of adult and childrens touring bikes and helmets, comfort seats, wine pannier (4 bottles), bottled water and winery map are provided. Child seats and tow-alongs also available to cater for all the family. A personalised tour is planned that caters to your abilities to explore scenic spots, vineyards, wineries, vineyard restaurants and cafes, arts and crafts, olive oils and the pick of seasonal fruit.Take a day trip to Lochmara Lodge in the Queen Charlotte Sound.

Hand feed kakariki (NZ native parrot), see wetas and bees, enjoy the safe swimming beach with play equipment, kayak around the sheltered coastline, go on the Great New Zealand Art Hunt and enjoy fabulous food in their café.Drive a boat, explore the sounds, have fun, freedom & stunning scenery on a guided boating safari. Explore the sheltered coastline of the Marlborough Sounds with Waterways Boating Safaris.

Stop at...

  • Riverlands Cob Cottage, one of the oldest cob buildings in Marlborough.
  • Marlborough Museum has an extraordinary range of artefacts, photographs, paintings, documents and displays relating to Marlborough history.  Stroll through “Beavertown” replica village.
  • Visit the EcoWorld Aquarium and Terrarium on Picton’s foreshore
  • Walk through Wither Hills Farm Park, a network of walks with views over the vineyard-studded Wairau Plains.
  • Picton's picturesque foreshore with mini golf, children's playground and marina.

Staying on track

The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is marked with brown road signs displaying grapes. Even if you decide to do a whirlwind five-day itinerary, you’ll only drive for around three hours a day on high quality roads and highways. Traffic is generally light in New Zealand, so driving is relatively stress-free.

» Touring Routes

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Classic NZ Wine Trail - For all the Family