Seeing the same place with fresh eyes

Don’t leave home til you’ve seen the country is one of the most memorable jingles of my childhood television experience. It must have been a Tourism New Zealand advert on TV and it made a strong impact because we had already seen a fair bit of the country and spent four years living in Singapore by the time I was 12. It’s easy to want to travel and just as easy to forget about all the great places right on our own doorstep, both of which were the motivations behind this pleasurable new labour of love, which is fresh off the printing press for this festive season.

  • Books will be available for sale on this site soon – watch this space.

What’s in this new book?

There are now 717 wineries in New Zealand and innumerably more vineyards, from which they make their increasingly outstanding offerings, which so many of us enjoy on a daily or weekly basis. Many of these wineries have set up shop metaphorically while others have delicious visitable cellar doors with underground tasting rooms, such as Gibbston Valley Wines in its rocky enclave in magnificent Central Otago. Others have restaurants with food that exceeds our highest expectations; Moy Hall in Martinborough, Saint Clair Vineyard Kitchen in Marlborough and Greystone in the Waipara Valley in North Canterbury, among many, more more. Oh, I had better not forget to mention the food at Black Estate in North Canterbury or the tasting room at Pegasus Bay in the same region or the sensational fizz made by Cloudy Bay in Marlborough which has a fab cellar door. There are so many beautiful vineyards sprawling throughout our stunning countryside, increasingly with great cycleways alongside them, that it seems timely to write a book to guide us around them.

This book also throws the spotlight on the best winery cellar doors open to visitors and the great bike rides nearby.

The New Zealand countryside is liberally sprinkled with wineries situated in between its  magnificent mountain peaks in the deep south and along rolling arid hillsides in North Canterbury, Marlborough, Martinborough and Hawke’s Bay. The braided rivers in many of this country’s wine regions provide a plethora of stony soils in which vines can find warmth and free draining conditions in which to make their homes. And their beautiful riverbanks provide commanding tracks along which cyclists can enjoy riding in the dappled sunshine before emerging to rockier landscapes, the most famous perhaps being the Otago Central Rail Trail, which is surely one of the world’s great cycle rides.

If the glistening Marlborough Sounds remain but a postcard experience for you, then now’s the time to head to this country’s biggest wine region (Marlborough) for awesome bike rides around the wineries, commanding walks along the stunning ridge that is the Queen Charlotte Walk and to cycle further afield too, if fitness and time allow it. A hop, skip and jump away there is Nelson with its glistening waters, gorgeous aromatic wines and bike rides to burn; visitors are spoilt for choice there when it comes to bike rides, especially of the mountain bike variety.

We are, quite literally, spoilt for choice with stunning outdoor activities and delicious wines to enjoy along the way.

This book can help the reader to plan a weekend away, a longer trip away or just a day trip to one or two of the local wineries.

It is exactly 202 years ago since an English chaplain first stuck a vine in the ground at the Stone Store in Kerikeri, predicting that vines and wine would come to be of vast importance in this part of the world. His prediction has come true.

Wine is now the sixth biggest export earner for this country and it makes a pretty regular appearance in the social lives of a vast number of New Zealanders these days too. Which is why I’ve written this guide for everyone who’s keen to cycle, eat, drink and walk their way through the spectacular countryside that is Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • A Guide to Touring New Zealand’s Wineries by Joelle Thomson is published by New Holland, RRP $59.99 and available at good bookstores nationwide. 
  • Watch this space for a sales section in early 2022. 

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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