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The Essential Guide to Vineyard Tours in the South Island

When it comes to discovering the beauty of New Zealand’s South Island, vineyard tours offer a unique and unforgettable experience. 

Vineyard Tours in the South Island

With its stunning landscapes and world-renowned wines, the South Island has become a premier destination for wine enthusiasts and travellers alike. 

The lush vineyards nestled among picturesque mountains and lakes provide the perfect backdrop for a memorable wine tasting adventure.

One of the most notable aspects of vineyard tours in the South Island is the opportunity to sample a wide variety of wines, from crisp Sauvignon Blancs to rich Pinot Noirs. 

In addition to tasting delicious wines, visitors can also learn about the winemaking process and the unique terroir of the region. 

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply looking to explore the beauty of the South Island, a vineyard tour is a must-do experience. 

In the following sections, we will discuss some key takeaways to help you make the most of your vineyard tour experience in the South Island.

key Takeaways

  • The South Island of New Zealand is home to some of the most picturesque vineyards in the world, offering visitors a unique wine tasting experience surrounded by stunning landscapes.
  • Marlborough is the largest wine-producing region in the South Island, known particularly for its sauvignon blanc varietals. 

Visitors can enjoy tours of the vineyards and sample the region’s signature wines.

tours of the vineyards
  • Central Otago is another popular wine region in the South Island, famous for its pinot noir wines. 

Vineyard tours in Central Otago offer a chance to explore the unique terroir of the region and taste award-winning wines.

  • Wine enthusiasts can also explore the lesser-known wine regions of the South Island, such as Waipara Valley and Canterbury. 

These regions offer a more intimate wine tasting experience, away from the crowds of Marlborough and Central Otago.

  • When planning a vineyard tour in the South Island, be sure to book in advance, as many wineries require reservations for tastings and tours. 

Additionally, consider hiring a guide or joining a group tour to make the most of your wine tasting experience in this stunning region.

Best Vineyard Tours in the South Island: A Complete Guide

Exploring the Vineyards

When embarking on a vineyard tour in the South Island, be prepared to experience stunning landscapes and world-class wines. 

The region is known for producing some of the finest wines in the country, including the famous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Central Otago Pinot Noir. 

Each vineyard offers a unique experience, so be sure to visit a variety of them to get a well-rounded taste of what the South Island has to offer.

Wine Tasting

One of the highlights of any vineyard tour is the wine tasting experience. 

You’ll have the opportunity to sample a variety of wines, learn about different grape varieties, and gain insights into the winemaking process. 

Make sure to take your time savouring each sip and don’t be afraid to ask questions – the staff are always happy to share their knowledge and passion for wine.

Guided Tours

Many vineyards offer guided tours led by knowledgeable staff who can provide in-depth information about the vineyard’s history, winemaking techniques, and unique features. 

These tours are a great way to enhance your experience and gain a deeper understanding of the wine industry in the South Island.

Food Pairing

Pairing wine with food is an essential part of the tasting experience. Many vineyards offer food and wine pairing sessions where you can sample local cheeses, meats, and other delicacies alongside their wines. 

This is a great way to discover how different flavours interact and enhance each other, creating a memorable culinary experience.

Vineyard Accommodation

For a truly immersive experience, consider staying at a vineyard accommodation during your tour. Many vineyards offer luxurious lodgings surrounded by picturesque vineyards, allowing you to relax and unwind in the heart of wine country. 

Wake up to stunning views, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and spend your days exploring the vineyards at your own pace.

Wine Education

Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or a novice, there’s always something new to learn on a vineyard tour. 

Take advantage of wine education sessions offered by vineyards, where you can learn about different wine styles, regions, and tasting techniques. 

By expanding your knowledge, you’ll develop a deeper appreciation for the art of winemaking.

What are the essential items to pack for a vineyard tour?

  • Sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from UV rays
  • Comfortable footwear for walking around vineyards
  • A camera to capture the stunning scenery
  • A water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day
  • A notebook to jot down notes about your favourite wines

What vineyard tours are available in the South Island?

There are a variety of vineyard tours available in the South Island, including guided tours, self-guided tours, private tours, and group tours. 

Each option offers a unique experience for wine enthusiasts to explore the stunning vineyards in the region.

How long do vineyard tours typically last?

The duration of vineyard tours can vary depending on the specific tour operator and itinerary. Some tours may last a few hours, while others could span an entire day. 

It is recommended to check with the tour provider for details on tour durations.

What can I expect to see and do on a vineyard tour?

On a vineyard tour in the South Island, you can expect to visit multiple vineyards, learn about the winemaking process, sample a variety of wines, and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. 

Some tours may also include a gourmet lunch or dinner paired with local wines.

Are vineyard tours suitable for non-drinkers or children?

While vineyard tours typically focus on wine tasting and appreciation, many tour operators offer non-alcoholic options for non-drinkers or children. 

Additionally, some tours may include activities such as vineyard walks, cellar tours, or food pairings that can be enjoyed by all participants.

How should I dress for a vineyard tour?

It is recommended to dress comfortably and appropriately for a vineyard tour, taking into account the weather conditions and terrain. 

Comfortable shoes, sun protection, and layers are often recommended for the best experience.

Can I purchase wine during a vineyard tour?

Many vineyard tours offer the opportunity to purchase wine directly from the vineyard, either during the tour or at the end of the visit. Some tours may also provide discounts or special offers for tour participants on wine purchases.

Are transportation and meals included in vineyard tours?

Transportation and meals are not always included in vineyard tours, so it is important to check with the tour operator for details on what is included in the tour package.

Some tours may offer transportation options or meal add-ons for an additional fee.

Are vineyard tours wheelchair accessible?

While some vineyard properties may have limited accessibility due to terrain or historic buildings, many tour operators strive to accommodate guests with mobility issues. It is recommended to inquire with the tour provider in advance to address any specific accessibility needs.

Are vineyard tours suitable for solo travellers?

Vineyard tours can be a great option for solo travellers looking to explore the South Island’s wine country. 

Many tour operators welcome solo participants and provide a friendly and inclusive atmosphere for all guests to enjoy the experience together.

When is the best time of year to take a vineyard tour in the South Island?

The best time of year to take a vineyard tour in the South Island can vary depending on personal preferences and seasonal activities. 

However, the region is particularly beautiful during the harvest season in autumn, when the vineyards are ablaze with vibrant colours and activity.

Final Thoughts

Exploring the vineyards of the South Island on a guided tour is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the region’s rich wine culture and stunning scenery. 

Whether you are a wine enthusiast, a solo traveller, or a family looking for a unique adventure, a vineyard tour offers something for everyone to enjoy. 

With a variety of options available, you can tailor your experience to suit your interests and preferences, making for a memorable and educational journey through the South Island’s vineyards.


Do you visit the same wineries each day?

 No, the tour operators do not visit the same cellar doors every day. 

They aim to mix it up and visit a variety of wineries, from larger corporate ones to small family vineyards and boutique producers, in order to give guests a full range of experiences in the Marlborough region.

Can I choose the wineries we go to on the tour? 

Most of the year, the tour operators don’t have preset schedules, so they can change the visits to cater to the tastes of their clients. 

However, during the busy summer season or on cruise ship days, there may be less flexibility as they need to pre-book visits.

Is there a dress code for the wine tours? 

There is no strict dress code. The tours take place in air-conditioned comfort, so guests are recommended to wear tidy and comfortable clothing suitable for the weather conditions, with sensible shoes for getting in and out of the wineries and potentially walking in vineyards.

Can I book a tour for just one person? 

The minimum number to run a tour is usually 2 people. 

If the website won’t let you book for just 1 person, you should contact the tour operator as they may have other options or be able to accommodate a solo traveller.

Do the tours visit Cloudy Bay Vineyard? 

Due to a policy limiting group sizes, the tours may not be able to visit Cloudy Bay during peak seasons. 

However, there are over 20 other cellar doors in Marlborough that the tours can visit instead.