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. 

Writers talk wine and words on 19 January

One of many events that was postponed but is now back on. I am chairing a session of fellow wine writers at a masterclass style event as part of the Hamilton Book Month to be held Wednesday 19 January from 6.30pm to 8pm at The Atrium, Wintec House in Anglesea Street, Hamilton. Everyone is welcome and bookings are essential since we will be serving eight wines alongside the main course of the night – conversation between writers about how we all dived down the wine writing rabbit hole and why wine keeps us all so engaged. Hint: it’s more about a journey of discovery in each glass than simply a tasty beverage…

Join us for what promises to be a delicious night of wine and conversation with two women and two men of wine; namely, yours truly as chair of the panel, along with Yvonne Lorkin, Master of Wine Bob Campbell and award winning author Michael Cooper.

We have all judged wine, written about wine, some of us have sold wine, others have authored books about it.

My new book also warrants a mention – and will be written more extensively about on this site.

Each writer has chosen one white and one red wine up to $35 value to taste on the night and I will be asking the others to share a couple of their trade secrets.

How to book and more


Book to meet yours truly, Yvonne Lorkin, Bob Campbell MW and Michael Cooper by contacting The Hamilton Beer & Wine Co , phone 07 839 1190 or email:


Free parking available on campus. Enter via Gate 3 on Tristram Street but avoid where resident or hostel parking only is stipulated. Parking also available in Ward and Nisbet Streets and in the Wintec parking building accessed through Ward Street.


Winetopia 2022 dates confirmed, tickets on sale

Live music, freshly prepped food and wine tastings with an emphasis on fun. That’s the aim of Winetopia’s organising committee, which announced that the event will go ahead in 2022, with dates and tickets now available.

The two day event will run in three cities next May, July and August, kicking off in Auckland then heading south to Wellington and culminating in Christchurch. Over 50 wineries  will present the A to S of wine, with everything from Albarino to Syrah confirmed for the 2022 event.

“This is a chance to delve deep into the enchanting world of New Zealand wine in all of its finery. Choose your city, book your tickets, arrive with a thirst for adventure,” says Rob Eliott, owner of Lemongrass Productions and Winetopia.

Yours truly is a presenter and looking forward to hosting an other range of fast and fun blind tastings, masterclasses and other events. This will be the third year running that I have been involved at the Wellington event over the full two days.

Dates and venues for Winetopia 2022

Auckland, Shed 10 – 20 to 21 May

Wellington, TSB Arena – 1 to 2 July

Christchurch, Te Pae – 26 to 27 August


Tickets are now on sale from $37 + $2 booking fee at