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Suggestions for NZ (pre cruise) & AU (post cruise) wine regions/wineries?


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Hello!

 

My DH and I are taking a cruise from Aukland to Sydney and then a Great Barrier Reef cruise out of Sydney in March 2022.   Our schedule is flexible so we are planning to spend time in New Zealand before the 1st cruise and Australia after the 2nd cruise. 

 

We are California wine lovers and would love to explore and learn more about wine regions and wines for both New Zealand and Australia.  But I don't know where to start,  so hoping to gather some ideas and suggestions from people who know the area best.

 

We're willing to fly to another New Zealand city to explore before traveling to Aukland for cruise departure.  Any ideas on where to go and specific wineries to visit?  Would renting a car be needed?  My DH has driven on the left side of the road in several Caribbean countries, so he could probably handle it if traffic isn't a nightmare.

 

Any suggestions for wine tours/excursions for any of the NZ ports listed below?  I believe Napier is near Hawk's Bay wine region.  (FYI-I've seen this similar post about NZ ports but would like some additional options)

  • Aukland
  • Tauranga
  • Napier
  • Picton
  • Christchurch
  • Dunedin

 

 

We're planning to spend the 3 days between cruises in Sydney.  Any wine regions/winery suggestions after our cruise returns to Sydney?  We're willing to travel to another city if needed and could rent a car.

 

Thanks so much for your insight and guidance!  Cruise critic is an awesome place to share knowledge!

 

Mary

 

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I highly recommend the Hawke's Bay wine region near Napier and the Marlborough wine region near Blenheim.  Napier is a lovely place, full of Art Deco architecture and there are some very fine wineries and restaurants within driving distance.  If you drive through to the Blenheim region in Marlborough there are some nice cycle tours you can do from winery to winery.  It does depend how much time you are spending in port though as they both involve some travel time.  

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Hi!

We took a Aust./NZ cruise a few years ago - such a treat!. I know that when we were in Picton we took an excursion to a wine area which is known for it's Sauvignon Blanc. It's the Marlborough region, which is the biggest wine-making area in NZ. I'd look for tours/excursions from that area, but there are other areas which also had wine tours.

 

Enjoy your trip!

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Hello again,

Having discussed matters with my husband, he also suggests that you could visit Waiheke Island which is in the Hauraki Gulf.  You can take a ferry from Auckland and in fact many people live on Waiheke and commute to Auckland city each day for work.  You can rent a car on Waiheke if you wish.  To be honest, we both love wine, so could bore you senseless with recommendations.  

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Thank you for these great suggestions!  Now I have a starting point for my research.  

 

Anybody have ideas for 

9 hours ago, onlyslightlymad said:

Hello again,

Having discussed matters with my husband, he also suggests that you could visit Waiheke Island which is in the Hauraki Gulf.  You can take a ferry from Auckland and in fact many people live on Waiheke and commute to Auckland city each day for work.  You can rent a car on Waiheke if you wish.  To be honest, we both love wine, so could bore you senseless with recommendations.  

You couldn't bore me when it comes to wine... so keep the recommendations coming!

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9 hours ago, Radbooks said:

Hi!

We took a Aust./NZ cruise a few years ago - such a treat!. I know that when we were in Picton we took an excursion to a wine area which is known for it's Sauvignon Blanc. It's the Marlborough region, which is the biggest wine-making area in NZ. I'd look for tours/excursions from that area, but there are other areas which also had wine tours.

 

Enjoy your trip!

Thanks for the recommendation!   Some friends said I'll never go back to US white wines after drinking Sauv Blanc from New Zealand!

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1 hour ago, flwinejunkie said:

Thank you for these great suggestions!  Now I have a starting point for my research.  

 

Anybody have ideas for 

You couldn't bore me when it comes to wine... so keep the recommendations coming!

I will offer up my suggestions then.   It's March, so the beginning of Autumn.  It will be getting a little colder.  Who you are cruising with?  We have done the Aus/NZ cruise itinerary with both NCL and Celebrity.

 

1.  Auckland - start a couple of days early and head over to Waiheke.  Stay a couple of nights and enjoy a relaxing start to your holiday.   https://www.waihekewine.co.nz/

 

2.  Tauranga.  I live here and while there are a couple of wineries this is not a wine region of note.  I believe on the NCL cruise there was a wine tasting excursion at Mills Reef but they have closed that restaurant/cellar door down in the last year.  I would not bother doing a wine excursion here.  Take the bus to Rotorua if you want to see boiling mud or simply go to the beach.

 

3.  Napier.  As already stated,  in the Hawke's Bay and there are lots of great wineries in the region.  My favourite is Craggy Range.  They have a lovely restaurant and also do wine tastings accompanied by cheese.  https://craggyrange.com/. There are plenty of others though.

 

4.  Picton.  From Picton, you should head through to the Marlborough wine tasting region.  https://www.wine-marlborough.co.nz/. Famous for producing the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world.

 

5.  Christchurch.  Are you stopping in Lyttelton or Akaroa?  Akaroa has a couple of producers but nothing exciting.  Here's an example.  https://frenchfarmwinery.co.nz/.   A pleasant place to while away the afternoon but the wines are not well known.  If you are parked in Lyttelton, there are some Canterbury wineries but it's a bit of a drive out of town.  I'm not sure I would bother.

 

6.  Dunedin.  Your cruise line will probably offer an overnight trip to Queenstown.  I would take it so that you can get to the vineyards of Central Otago which are famous for their Pinot Noir.  I am very fond of Amisfield but there are many other fine wine producers in this region.

 

I hope this helps.  Please ask any other questions you may have.  

 

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Wow onlyslightlymad!!

 

We're cruising with Celebrity for the first time and looking forward to trying something different besides NCL and Carnival.

 

Thank you for your great recommendations.  I love your ideas for Aukland, Napier and Picton and will dive into the details so I can make some definite plans.

 

For Tauranga, you mention taking the bus to Rotorua.  Are you talking about the city bus or some kind of ship excursion?  If it's the city bus, would it be difficult to get from the port to a bus stop to go to a beach somewhere?  I'm thinking a "do it yourself" beach day might be relaxing instead of taking a formal excursion to Rotorua.

 

We're stopping in Lyttelton for Christchurch.  Celebrity has an excursion to North Canterbury's Waipara Valley that visits Pegasus Bay, Waipara Hills and Waipara Springs wineries.   It looks like a good opportunity to see some wineries.  Do you think we would enjoy it or should we look for something else to do? 

 

For Dunedin, Celebrity offers an overnight trip to Queenstown that includes a visit to Gibbston Valley Winery in addition to other specific agenda items.  I love pinot noir, so I doubt if I'd be happy with just 1 winery.   I'm thinking about spending 2 or 3 days in Central Otago to explore more wineries.  It looks like Jetstar flies from Aukland to Queenstown and then I could rent a car.   Am I crazy for trying it?  

 

I can't thank you enough for your help and recommendations!  Your insight and information has helped me get excited to start finalizing plans!

 

Mary

 

 

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Posted (edited)

From Sydney you can go on a tour to the hunter ,there’s quite a few .

https://huntervalleytoursydney.com.au

 

Or you could do it yourself. I wouldn’t drive from Sydney the traffic is a nightmare.

 Catch a train to Newcastle and hire a car. Drink drive laws a pretty strict so stay in the hunter.

 

Also there’s a town 2.5 hours west of Sydney called Mudgee which has a lot of wineries.
https://www.mudgeewine.com.au

You could catch a train to Katoomba in the blue mountains ,hire a car and drive a couple of hours to Mudgee for a night and back to Katoomba.

That would be very scenic and easy.

 

If you had time you could do a loop .Blue mountains -Mudgee -Hunter valley .

 

You said you wouldn’t mind to travel?

The Barossa outside of Adelaide is probably one of the more famous.Theres a few cruises that go there or a hour flight from Sydney.

Edited by Chiliburn
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Thanks Chiliburn for giving me more ideas!.  I'm not familiar with Mudgee and Blue mountains so it will be fun to research them.  I need to get my pre and post cruise plans in order so I can get my flights early to use points.

 

Everyone - please keep the recommendations coming!  I really appreciate everyone's help.

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7 hours ago, flwinejunkie said:

Thanks Chiliburn for giving me more ideas!.  I'm not familiar with Mudgee and Blue mountains so it will be fun to research them.  I need to get my pre and post cruise plans in order so I can get my flights early to use points.

 

Everyone - please keep the recommendations coming!  I really appreciate everyone's help.

Sydney is a lovely city around the harbour but is just another city.

A couple of full days is probably enough. Go to the beach catch a couple of ferries on the harbour.Maybe a walk along the waterfront.

Don’t bother with a tour around Sydney,just get a public transport card (or you can use your credit card) and do it yourself.

 

Blue mountains is a popular destination from Sydney , you can do a tour or catch the train and stay the night. The train takes about 1.5 hours to a town in the mountains called Katoomba.

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On 1/3/2021 at 1:58 PM, flwinejunkie said:

Wow onlyslightlymad!!

 

We're cruising with Celebrity for the first time and looking forward to trying something different besides NCL and Carnival.

 

Thank you for your great recommendations.  I love your ideas for Aukland, Napier and Picton and will dive into the details so I can make some definite plans.

 

For Tauranga, you mention taking the bus to Rotorua.  Are you talking about the city bus or some kind of ship excursion?  If it's the city bus, would it be difficult to get from the port to a bus stop to go to a beach somewhere?  I'm thinking a "do it yourself" beach day might be relaxing instead of taking a formal excursion to Rotorua.

 

We're stopping in Lyttelton for Christchurch.  Celebrity has an excursion to North Canterbury's Waipara Valley that visits Pegasus Bay, Waipara Hills and Waipara Springs wineries.   It looks like a good opportunity to see some wineries.  Do you think we would enjoy it or should we look for something else to do? 

 

For Dunedin, Celebrity offers an overnight trip to Queenstown that includes a visit to Gibbston Valley Winery in addition to other specific agenda items.  I love pinot noir, so I doubt if I'd be happy with just 1 winery.   I'm thinking about spending 2 or 3 days in Central Otago to explore more wineries.  It looks like Jetstar flies from Aukland to Queenstown and then I could rent a car.   Am I crazy for trying it?  

 

I can't thank you enough for your help and recommendations!  Your insight and information has helped me get excited to start finalizing plans!

 

Mary

 

 

Hi Mary,

 

You are very welcome.  Daydreaming about your holiday is lots of fun for me too at this uncertain time.

 

With Tauranga I should have been more specific.  Rotorua is about an hour's drive away.  When I refer to the bus I meant the cruise excursion not a public bus.  Rotorua is a well-known geothermal destination with boiling mud, geysers etc.  It is very geared towards tourists and very popular with visitors.  If you want to visit here  I would take an organised tour merely because of time.  You don't want the stress of trying to get back to the cruise ship before it leaves without you.  There are other excursions out of town too.  Lord of the Rings fans like to visit Hobbiton which is the film set near a town called Matamata.  I must admit I've never been because I think it is way too expensive but people do seem to enjoy it.  However, if you want to go to the beach you are already there.  The cruise ship docks at Mount Maunganui which is a beachside suburb of Tauranga.  There is a lovely walk up Mauao which is "The Mount" , a small extinct volcano.  There is also a lovely surf beach which is very popular with tourists and locals alike.  There is a stretch of shops and cafes.  You could enjoy a very chill day here which is what I do when I dock here (where I live).

 

As to Christchurch this is my hometown but I haven't lived here for some time.  Canterbury is not a destination wine region like Marlborough or Otago.  When I lived there, the wineries north of the city were young and the wine was a bit hit and miss.  They are out in the country and have restaurants.  The sort of places where you would hold a wedding or meet your grandmother for a family lunch.  I have not tasted wines from these vineyards for many years and it would not be fair to judge from past memories.  It may be a nice day out in the country if the weather is good and you can tell me what you think.  Otherwise, Christchurch City is still recovering from the earthquake of ten years ago.  Much of the downtown area still looks like a construction site but it is fun to walk around the Botanical gardens, museum, Arts Centre, Art Gallery which are all in the same area.  There is also a tram which does a circuit around the downtown city area.

 

Queenstown is very popular with tourists for a reason.  It is beautiful and the region is filled with fabulous wineries and restaurants.  Air NZ also flies from Auckland to Queenstown.  The only problem with Queenstown is that it's such a tourist mecca that it gets very overcrowded.  Many New Zealanders are taking advantage of the fact that there are no tourists at present and there has been an upsurge in domestic tourism. 

 

My only word of caution is that I'm not sure the country will be open to visitors in March 2022.  I do hope I'm wrong and of course we will know more as time passes.

 

Happy to answer any other questions you have.

 

Leisa

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1 hour ago, onlyslightlymad said:

Hi Mary,

 

With Tauranga I should have been more specific.  Rotorua is about an hour's drive away.  When I refer to the bus I meant the cruise excursion not a public bus. 

 

Leisa

Leisa, you can catch a public bus to Rotorua. When we visited two years ago, a work friend who happened to be on the same cruise, and her travel mate caught the public bus to Rotorua. They had evidently put in a fair bit of research. It also was much cheaper than the cost of the excursion we did through a local company and much, much cheaper than the ship organised one.

 

Leigh

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1 minute ago, possum52 said:

Leisa, you can catch a public bus to Rotorua. When we visited two years ago, a work friend who happened to be on the same cruise, and her travel mate caught the public bus to Rotorua. They had evidently put in a fair bit of research. It also was much cheaper than the cost of the excursion we did through a local company and much, much cheaper than the ship organised one.

 

Leigh

That's good to know Leigh.  They would have caught an Intercity.  Yes, those ship excursions are very expensive.  My only concern would be the time factor but then I don't know how long the ship is in port.  Sometimes they do overnight here in Tauranga.

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Posted (edited)

 

21 minutes ago, onlyslightlymad said:

That's good to know Leigh.  They would have caught an Intercity.  Yes, those ship excursions are very expensive.  My only concern would be the time factor but then I don't know how long the ship is in port.  Sometimes they do overnight here in Tauranga.

We were in port for over 12 hours if I remember correctly Leisa so plenty of time to catch the public bus.  

 

My daughter's name is Leisa also.

 

Leigh

Edited by possum52
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  • 2 weeks later...

I live in the Hunter Valley and would add there are also some great non wine things to do and see. As well as lots of great cellar doors and tasting opportunities.

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  • 2 months later...
On 1/14/2021 at 3:03 AM, GUT2407 said:

I live in the Hunter Valley and would add there are also some great non wine things to do and see. As well as lots of great cellar doors and tasting opportunities.

 

Hey GUT,

 

Did you get a new avi? A sketch of the GUT pooch?

 

Chili still Chili, OzKiwi looks the same, I have to go and look to see if my Covid goggles 🤓 are so foggy I can't see everyone here! We're getting so close....

 

Hope everyone is hanging in there and summer has been as ok as can be 🌻

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2 hours ago, Host Bonjour said:

 

Hey GUT,

 

Did you get a new avi? A sketch of the GUT pooch?

 

Chili still Chili, OzKiwi looks the same, I have to go and look to see if my Covid goggles 🤓 are so foggy I can't see everyone here! We're getting so close....

 

Hope everyone is hanging in there and summer has been as ok as can be 🌻

Gee I’ve had Maxy there for a few years now, almost as soon as I got him and he will be 4 soon.

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This is such a helpful thread! We have just booked a 39 day cruise out of Auckland for March 2023. So lots of time to plan and this info will be helpful.

We have been to Waiheke and did the hop on hop off bus and really enjoyed it.

Happy planning, Karen

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