Time is the only thing you’re up against when you visit New Zealand. You want to see it all, but there’s just not enough time!
Although New Zealand has 10 wonderful wine regions all worthy of a visit, today we’re giving you an overview of 3 wine regions you don’t want to miss on your visit to the South Island:
Nelson is one of New Zealand’s up-and-coming wine regions that can’t be ignored.
With more sunshine hours than any other place in the country, Nelson is making some phenomenal wines that you have to try.
Located about an hour west of the Marlborough region, Nelson produces some amazing wine that goes head-to-head with their internationally recognized neighbor.
Winemakers produce a variety of wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Pinot Noir.
Relax and enjoy your wine wins at a local bed & breakfast located right on a vineyard, such as Milcrest Estate. Together with Milcrest Estate, our Nelson winery recommendations include Neudorf and Golden Hills Estates.
- Hike, kayak, and swim at Abel Tasman National Park
If you’ve heard of at least one New Zealand wine region, it’s most likely Marlborough.
While they’re famous for their aromatic Sauvignon Blanc, it’s important to remember that the region offers much more than just this varietal.
While you should definitely try a few Sauvignon Blancs (you’re there, after all!), do yourself a favor and steer away from this Marlborough cliché because there is so much to taste!
Staying in or around Renwick will put you in the heart of wine country. We stayed at the Olde Mill House Bed & Breakfast which has free bicycles for guests. This enabled us to bike to the wineries instead of driving!
Our Marlborough winery recommendations include Forrest Wines because of their great wines and tasting room ambiance (their John Forrest Collection 2004 Chardonnay is superb), Mahi, and Spy Valley (learning Morse code during a tasting is a new experience).
- Visit the picturesque town of Picton and hike the beautiful waterfront.
It’s the southernmost wine growing region in the world and they are known for their kickin’ Pinot Noir.
The altitude combined with cold winters and hot as heck summers definitely help. Other wine varieties include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer.
Unlike flat, bike-friendly Marlborough, you’ll definitely want wheels with a motor for Otago as areas can be very hilly with narrow, winding roads. If you’re up for the challenge, that’s another story… Lance!
If you stay in Queenstown, it’s just a short drive to our favorite Central Otago vineyards. We recommend a wine tasting and lunch at Mt. Difficulty followed by a trip to The Lazy Dog Restaurant & Cellar Door specifically to taste the fine wines from Misha’s Vineyard.
- Spend a few days visiting and hiking Fiordland National Park
- Take a boat cruise on Milford Sound
- Check out Queenstown, a beautiful lakeside city surrounded by mountains.
Nelson, New Zealand offers a unique setting for wine lovers and adventurous spirits alike.
Set on the northern tip of New Zealand’s south island, the area offers vineyards, beaches, national parks, and more sunshine than the rest of New Zealand!
If you want a true vineyard escape, Milcrest Estate, centrally located within the region, has it all: luxury accommodations set among vineyards with a scenic backdrop of green hills and perhaps most important, their own wines for you to enjoy.
So, as I tell you about Milcrest Estate and the surrounding region… sit back, relax, and start planning your next romantic getaway right here!
Milcrest Estate (in Hope, Nelson) opened to the public in January 2010, offering intimate Bed & Breakfast-style accommodations. Discreetly located away from main roads, this boutique vineyard offers personal attention for a maximum of 4 guests per night (only 2 rooms).
Whether you choose the Pinot Noir Suite or Sauvignon Suite, you’ll enjoy top-notch amenities including a complimentary bottle of wine, goose down duvets, Wi-Fi, and an iPod dock.
Both rooms offer great views of the vineyards and hills.
Unwind at the end of the day with a bottle of wine on your own private patio. The rooms also offer a mini fridge and microwave, the perfect setup for enjoying light appetizers.
Breakfast is served in-room with the choice of a continental (included) or a hot breakfast (nominal fee).
In the summer months, Milcrest Estate also offers guests a barbecue dinner where they serve up local specialties including whitebait, venison, and fresh fish paired with their very own wines.
Coming soon… a swimming pool! But until then, you can enjoy the bubbling hot tub.
Prices range between US $105-120 per night, depending on the season.
Milcrest Estate currently produces 3 different wines under their own label: Sauvignon Blanc (of course, it’s New Zealand after all!), Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir.
The Nelson wine-growing region is the 8th largest in the country and because of the amount of sunshine, the region produces some amazing aromatic wines.
Milcrest Estate is situated on an ancient alluvial river plain, allowing great drainage as well as stones that naturally heat the grapes at night.
This is a true microclimate unique to Milcrest Estate, which the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, in particular, love.
Check out this wine review by Wine Vault TV:
Planning your stay in Nelson:
If you really want to do the region justice, you’ll need at least a week because there are so many things to do. I’d recommend checking out the official Nelson website, one of the most comprehensive and informative tourism websites I’ve seen.
There are 10 wineries within 6 kilometers of Milcrest Estate, including Waimea Estate, Fossil Ridge, Brightwater Vineyards, and Richmond Plains for organic wine. Make sure you also check out Neudorf and Rimu Grove, about a 15-minute drive.
If you love the great outdoors, make time (as in a few days) to explore Abel Tasman National Park, which is known for its golden beaches, rich estuaries, and rocky hills. Take one of New Zealand’s Great Walks (an easy 3-5 day hike) along the coast or spend a few days hiking the Inland Track. For those who would prefer to be on the water, plan a sailing or kayaking adventure.
Snow bunnies can hit up Rainbow Ski Field in the winter, a 55-minute drive from Milcrest Estate.
Planning a trip to Milcrest Estate around the time of these festivals or events could be a good idea, as they are in very close proximity:
Nelson’s International Jazz Festival – January
Brightwater Wine & food Festival – February
Rugby World Cup - September, October 2011 (games held around the country)
Milcrest Estate is about a 15-minute drive from Nelson airport, the fourth busiest in New Zealand. There are also vehicle rentals, ferries, and bus services to the region.
If you really want to explore the region and have a limited amount of time, a car rental is probably your best option. However, the Nelson tourism website or Milcrest Estate owner, Terry Milton, can answer any specific questions.