Wine, enjoyed in moderation, is a healthy food which enriches life.
New Zealand and South Australia - Wine, Cuisine, History and Culture
14 Days in New Zealand + 3 Day optional Add On in Australia
February 22 to March 6, 2020
Below you will see details on the itinerary for the 2018 edition. A similar tour could be run in 2020 provided there is sufficient interest. I now have 4 couples who would like to go in February 2020, so a trip at this time is now likely.
Email: Steve Thurlow email@example.com if you would like to find out more on this trip and to get an idea of the plan and the price.
Imagine summer in the vineyards of Australia and New Zealand. With its splendid climate, pure air, pristine environment and magnificent natural beauty, New Zealand is truly a feast for the senses. Join wine personality Steve Thurlow as he leads an excursion of discovery and enjoyment.
Visit wineries days before harvest with the vineyards rich with ripe grapes, marvel at some of the world's most beautiful natural scenery, visit whales at play in the Southern Ocean, learn how to prepare dishes the New Zealand way, dine in splendid settings at wineries with their owners, and soak up the hot summer sunshine.
Experience the spectacular scenery of both North and South Islands of New Zealand and South Australia, explore Maori culture, wander in streets of rural communities and shop for souvenirs.
In February, when we typically experience the depths of a Canadian winter, on the other side of the world summer is most pleasant in New Zealand. Can you imagine the difference between -22°C and +22°C? It will be even warmer in the Barossa Valley.
Wine for Life presents an accompanied wine, food and
cultural visit to New Zealand and South Australia.
We will explore the leading vineyards and wineries and be introduced
to New Zealand's unique cuisine.
More recently it has emerged as a producer of high quality reds from cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot. It is the exciting pinot noirs, however, that are currently gaining international interest the most. This tour will visit most of the major wine regions and will include many of the top producers of pinot noir. There will be an opportunity to meet leading winemakers and taste their wines. This trip offers a unique opportunity to experience first hand this bountiful wine producing country. In South Australia we will visit four of the top wine producers and enjoy the warmth of Aussie hospitality.
As well as tasting and dining at many wineries, we will find time to visit some of the major tourist sites. We will be staying in hotels in Auckland, Napier, Blenheim, Christchurch, Queenstown and Adelaide.
If all this sounds like too hectic a pace, don't worry. There will be time for relaxing by the pool in the warm sunshine and wandering around some of the beautiful cities and towns that one can find downunder. We will also check out the wildlife such as seals, whales, koalas and kangaroos.
Email: Steve Thurlow firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more on this trip and to get an idea of the plan and the price.
The all-inclusive trip price assumes double occupancy and does not include any air transportation.
Guests will make their own travel arrangements including all the internal flights. We will be pleased to assist with all air travel if needed. Air New Zealand is a member of Star Alliance so Aeroplan points may be used.
The price includes all hotels, continental breakfasts, winery visits and tastings, and 19 meals, most with wines. [16 in New Zealand and 3 meals in Australia] Also included is the cost of the ferry to Waiheke Island and coach transportation, when we are not flying between destinations.
The price for the 14 day trip to New Zealand only in 2018 was C$6885 per person.
As a guide, total roundtrip airfare in economy from Toronto for all flights is currently around C$3100 including taxes, fees and surcharges.
C$3100 is the approximate total at present for the transpacific flight from Toronto to Auckland plus four internal flights from Auckland to Napier, from Napier to Blenhein, from Christchurch to Queenstown and from Queenstown to Adelaide plus the transpacific flight returning from Adelaide when booked on Air New Zealand.
Email: Steve Thurlow email@example.com if you would like to find out more on this trip.
Included meals. B= Breakfast, L= Lunch and D= Dinner
Day 1: Saturday - Auckland
We meet in the morning in Auckland, New Zealand's commercial capital and largest city, where we will stay at the City Life Hotel Auckland. Rooms are reserved for the group to check-in at midday on Saturday, however, depending on your arrival schedule you may wish to have a room reserved for additional nights prior to that night. These can be booked for a small additional cost by prior arrangement.
The hotel is in the heart of the city within walking distance of the city's main attractions. There is a gymnasium and an indoor heated lap-pool for guest use.
The program for the first day is light to allow for settling-in and rest after the long journey.
Mid morning we will stroll down to the harbour to take a short ferry ride across the Hauraki Gulf to nearby Waiheke Island.
Man O' War winery will host us for a tasting and picnic lunch.
There will be time for a short tour of the island taking in the spectacular views of the city and the islands in the gulf.
Late afternoon, we return to our hotel, with a chance for a rest. The evening will be free to explore the many restaurants that lie around the harbour in the heart of downtown. (B,L)
Day 2: - Auckland
Learn about the range of fresh produce, herbs, fish, meat, vegetables and fruits that are available.
As each course is being prepared one of Villa Maria's Winemakers will
lead us on a tour of the wines of New Zealand selecting examples to
show the regional differences from Villa Maria's extensive portfolio.
These will then be matched as we sample the dishes.
Day 3: - Hawkes Bay & Napier
The soils in the region are well suited for red grapes especially the Gimblett Gravels area.
Craggy Range sources its wines locally and also from the cooler Wairarapa region further south. We will visit the modern winery and learn some of the secrets about why they have been so successful.
Craggy Range has one of the best restaurants in the area.
We will enjoy lunch in the company of the winemaker with a selection of Craggy Range wines with the splendid view of Te Mata peak
As soon as lunch is over we will drive to the top of Te Mata peak for
a splendid view of the Hawkes Bay region.
Late afternoon we arrive at our hotel, Te Pania, on the seafront in Napier at its centre.
The evening will be free for visiting Napier with its amazing collection of art deco buildings or wandering by the sea along Marine Parade, and dining at one of the many quayside restaurants. (B,L)
Day 4: - Hawkes Bay
This morning we will visit the nearby C J Pask winery for a tasting, then we head to Sileni for a tasting followed by lunch. We will then return to the hotel. The balance of the afternoon can be filled with a visit to the Ocean Spa or maybe visiting the shops in the town or strolling along the shoreline of Hawkes Bay.
In the evening we leave to visit the Vidal winery.
After a tour and tasting we will dine at the winery restaurant, one of New Zealand's best winery restaurants.
The decor is quite simple but the food is superb especially when matched with the wines of the estate. (B,L,D)
Day 5: - Hawkes Bay - Wairarapa
The morning is free for relaxing at the hotel or maybe a last visit to the town before heading to the airport for our flight to Blenheim in the Marlborough wine region at the top of the South Island.
Our hotel for the next three nights is the Chateau Marlborough in the town of Blenheim.
Marlborough is New Zealand's largest wine region with around 50 wineries closely grouped together.
Soon after checking in we will leave to visit Wairau River Estate for a tasting and supper. (B,D)
Day 6: - Marlborough
We continue visiting wineries in the Blenheim region.
Cloudy Bay gets it name from the sea colour which sometimes in the right light looks a milky white due to the meeting of cold and warm water in this location.
Today we will visit the Pernod Ricard winery that produces the wine for Stoneleigh and Brancott wines. We start with a viticultural tour of their vineyards in the Wairau Valley led by a senior viticulturist.
After the vineyard tour we will briefly see the winery before meeting the winemaker for a tasting of the wines.
He will join us for lunch with a spectacular view over the vineyards.
After lunch we return to the hotel. The evening is free for enjoying the town of Blenheim. (B,L)
Day 7: Marlborough
The Marlborough wine region depends on river water for irrigation. Vineyards are often located close to rivers with free draining old river bed soils.
We continue visiting wineries in the Blenheim region. We leave the hotel after breakfast to drive to Dogpoint and Greywacke. These are two small wineries that share facilities and that are run by some of the “old boys“ that started the area's founding wineries, like Cloudy Bay, that put this region on the map 30 years ago. They are making some of the best wines in Marlborough.
After this visit we return to Blenheim for some shopping and a chance to wander around the town finding a bite to eat.
There will be a side trip for those that are interested to the Omaka Heritage Centre on the outskirts of town which has a remarkable collection of airplanes from the early days of aviation.
Olives and vines in the Brancott Valley.
Late afternoon we leave to visit the Te Pa vineyards close to Cloudy Bay, where we will receive a Maori welcome since this winery is operated by Maoris. For over 800 years the ancestors of Haysley MacDonald have farmed and fished in the area. He is now their leader and the director of Te Pa wines.
We will taste their wines and then enjoy a bbq supper in a most picturesque setting. (B,D)
Day 8: - Kaikoura and Waipara
Off the coast of the village is a marine environment so rich in nutrients that it attracts some of the most magnificent creatures with which we share our planet.
Among them is the giant Sperm Whale which can grow up to 20 meters in length and has the largest brain of any animal alive. The whale watch trip is optional (~C$140) and the price is not included in the tour. We will be at sea for about 2½ hours, on what will be a breathtaking adventure right into the world of the whales to meet them face to face. There is a 95% chance of sighting a sperm whale. A picnic lunch can be bought to be eaten on board.
The charming small town has lots of places for lunch and good souvenir shopping for those that do not wish to go to sea.
[At present the road to Kaikoura is closed following the earthquake in November 2016. Work has started on reopening the road which is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. If however the road remains closed we will take the inland scenic route to Waipara and will not be able to get to Kaikoura.]
Much of the central business district of Christchurch was devastated by an earthquake in 2011. The cathedral, though it remains standing, is walled off until such time as it can be restored or for another church to be built on the site.
The Cardboard Cathedral which opened in August 2013 was designed by architect Shigeru Ban and seats around 700 people.
The building rises 21 metres above the altar.
Materials used include 60-centimetre diameter cardboard tubes, timber and steel.
The roof is of polycarbon with eight shipping containers forming the walls.
The rest of the evening will be free maybe sampling a few beers in one of the many pubs or strolling along the banks of the Avon river. (B,D)
Day 9: - Christchurch
On our way south from Kaikoura the day before, we passed through the Waipara wine region. We back-track this morning driving about an hour north of the city to visit the Waipara Hills winery, for a tour and tasting and then on to Black Estate to sample their wines and enjoy lunch.
Late afternoon we return to our hotel. The evening is free. (B,L)
Day 10: - Central Otago
In the morning we leave for the airport for our flight to the alpine
resort of Queenstown.
Late morning we arrive in Central Otago and will soon be in the Gibbston Valley where we will visit the Waitiri Creek winery for a tasting and lunch.
Late afternoon we arrive at the Crowne Plaza, Queenstown where we will stay two nights.
The hotel sits on the lake in the middle of town with spectacular views from the rooms of the lake and the surrounding mountains, as can be seen in the above photo.
This evening is free for exploring the town, its shops, bars and cafes eventually finding a place for dinner. (B, L)
Day 11: - Fiordland and Milford Sound
Today is a free day with no included activities until the evening to allow those that wish to cross the coastal mountains to visit Fiordland and Milford Sound.
It is about a 4.5 hour drive by coach to get there. The route back is along the same roads and takes a similar amount of time. On arrival in Milford one boards a boat for a 2 hour scenic cruise out to the Tasman Sea and back in company of a guide who provides detailed interpretation. Dolphins, seals and penguins are often seen.
Coach in and coach out is the least expensive way (~C$170) to visit the pure wilderness of New Zealand's largest
national park, but it takes 12.5 hours in total leaving at 6:30 am and getting back to Queenstown at 7:00 pm
However you can also fly in and fly out on a small plane from Queenstown which cuts the trip duration to 4 hours including a 2 hour cruise to the mouth of the sound as above. The cost of this is around C$430, which is worth it in my opinion for such an amazing experience.
Milford Sound Scenic Flights is one of several companies that organizes tours to Milford Sound.
Te Wahipounamu, a world heritage site, is one of the greatest wilderness areas left in the southern hemisphere. There one finds the highest mountains, largest glaciers, tallest forests, wildest rivers, most rugged landscapes and deepest lakes.
Milford is one of the wettest places on earth with an annual rainfall of 6.43 m falling on 182 days of the year, so be prepared for it to rain.
For those that choose to give Milford a miss, there is much to see and do in Queenstown. Some will opt to take a cruise on TSS Earnslaw across the lake to visit Walter Farm and others will take a more restful day enjoying all that the town and the hotel have to offer.
The evening will comprise a visit to the historic gold mining town, Arrowtown for shopping and supper at the Fork and Tap in the town. (B,D)
Day 12: - Central Otago
We head off this morning after checking out of our hotel, for a spectacular drive over the mountains to Wanaka.
We will visit the Maude winery for a tasting before heading into the lakeside town to find a bite to eat for lunch.
We then head south to the Cromwell region to visit Quartz Reef before checking in to Carrick Lodge where we stay for the next two nights.
Late afternoon we head to the Prophets Rock winery for a tasting and BBQ in their vineyard in Bendigo. (B,D)
Day13: - Cromwell
Early evening we leave to visit Tarras Vineyards for a tasting and light supper. (B,L,D)
Day 14: Friday March 2nd, 2018 - Adelaide, South Australia
The morning will comprise a visit to Two Paddocks Estate for a tasting and lunch
Those not coming on the Australian part of the tour will leave us at the airport in Queenstown.
Our hotel, The Stamford Grand Adelaide, for the next three nights is on the beach at Glenelg a seaside suburb of Adelaide.
We arrive there late evening having grabbed a bite to eat in the Melbourne airport. (B, L)
Day 15: - Adelaide, South Australia
We leave this morning to visit the suburbs of Adelaide.
We first head east into the Adelaide Hills taking in great views of the city and the ocean beyond.
We should arrive at Cleland Wildlife Park around an hour after leaving the hotel.
There is a great view of Adelaide from here plus the chance to see koalas, kangaroos and wallabies up close.
After a couple of hours with the animals we head over to Magill Estate in the eastern part of Adelaide.
This vineyard was established in 1844 by Dr. Penfold. It is here where Penfold's Grange is created each year and matured in these barrels until release.
We will visit the cottage on the estate where Dr. Penfold lived which is now preserved as a museum to life in the colony in its earliest days.
After a tasting of some of Australia's finest wines we will take lunch with the Penfolds winemaking team.
We return late afternoon to our hotel on the beach at Glenelg. The evening is free to explore the seaside town of Glenelg. (B,L)
Day 16: - Barossa Valley
We leave the hotel this morning for the 1.5 hour drive north to the Barossa Valley where we will visit the Grant Burge winery for a tasting and lunch. After lunch we will visit some of the vineyards in the area before arriving at the Wolf Blass winery.
The visit to the winery will be followed by a tasting of some their premium labels. We will be back in our hotel late afternoon.
There will be a final group dinner in Glenelg. (B,L,D)
Day 17: Monday - Adelaide
The tour is at an end as we disperse from the hotel after breakfast. Many will want to stay a few days more in Australia maybe spending a few days in Sydney, or seeing the Great Barrier Reef, while others will be ready for home after 17 days away. (B)
The above itinerary is as planned. However we reserve the right to make adjustments depending upon weather, and other constraints, to substitute visits to alternative wineries and to arrange accommodation at hotels of similar standard in the towns mentioned.
The all-inclusive tour price includes all ground transportation in Australia and New Zealand, all hotel accommodation, all breakfasts (continental) and 19 meals (most with wines selected by Steve Thurlow) but does not include the cost of the visa for Australia.
The price also includes the ferry to Waiheke Island and the entrance fee to Cleland Wildlife park. The price is for double occupancy in twin and double rooms. Single supplement price on request.
This price is correct at present but could change as a result of major currency variations, taxation changes or other circumstances beyond our control. It is unlikely for there to be an increase and you are guaranteed that, if necessary, it would be less than 7%.
Register for Tour
Email: Steve Thurlow firstname.lastname@example.org
In accordance with the Ontario Travel Industry Act, below is the registered name, address and registration number of the provider of the travel services:
Agent: Steve Thurlow
TICO Registration Number: 1810380