If you come into Picton via the ferry from Wellington, the first thing you’ll notice about Marlborough is its scenery. The Marlborough sounds are beautiful and dramatic and, predictably, invite plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking and boating.
But what the region is really celebrated for, more than its natural beauty and outdoors activities, is wine.
Marlborough wine country is the largest and most renowned wine region in New Zealand. The Sauvignon Blanc wines from this area are celebrated internationally, while Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes also grow well.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a newbie, there’s no excuse for missing a chance to sample the flavours of Marlborough. Check out our list of wine tours in the area and find the right one for you.*Prices are all in New Zealand dollars and may change over time. Check with the tour operator for the latest pricing.*
This company hopes to leave its guests with an “unforgetabubble” experience and if online reviews are anything to go by, they certainly succeed. Not ones for routine, Bubbly Grape Wine Tours allows guests to customise their itinerary by choosing from a dozen local vineyards.
Sauvignon Blanc Blended Tour: ½ day, up to 5 wineries and/or chocolate shop. $55/person.
Special Reserve Tour: similar to the above, but all day long, with more winery stops. $80/person.
Gourmet Wine Lunch Tour: all day, includes a 3 course lunch at a winery. $140/person.
deVine offers two tours, each focused on exploring special areas of the Marlborough region. Wineries have been specially selected and both tours include a lunch stop (cost of lunch is included in the tour price).
Wairau Plains Tour: visit 5 or 6 wineries, with the option to visit the Makana chocolate factory. $225/person.
Awatere Valley Wine Tour: visit wineries, lunch stop incudes a lobster fishing demonstration. $225/person.
Operating since 1993, Highlight Wine Tours offers customisable itineraries to suit any interests or schedules. Tours also offer pick up from accommodation in Blenheim, Havelock and Picton ($10 extra for Havelock and Picton pick-ups). All tours end on a sweet note, with a trip to the Makana Chocolate Factory.
All Day Tours: begins at 10am, finishes at 5pm. 5-7 wineries (your choice) with a lunch stop (at own cost). Can be customised to include arts, crafts, preserves, olive oil tastings, beer tastings and the Prenzels Distillery. $75/person.
Half Day Wine Tour with Lunch: begins at 11:30am, ends at 5pm and includes a lunch stop (lunch at own cost). $65/person.
Afternoon Wine Tour: begins at 1pm, ends at 5pm. No stop for lunch, but café food is available at some of the wineries. $55/person.
This family-owned operator has been running wine tours in the Marlborough region since 1999.
The Short Tour: 3 hours, stopping at approximately 4 wineries. $45/person.
The Medium Tour: 4-5 hours lunch stop at one of the vineyards (lunch at own cost). $60/person.
The All-Day Tour: 7 hours and can include champagne breakfast (own cost) and a lunch break (own cost). $80/person.
Short Tour + Sounds Cruise with Mussels: After a short wine tour, guests are taken to Havelock for lunch on the wharf and then a boat tour of the Sounds. At the end of the ride, you get a glass of sauvignon blanc and a taste of the other local specialty: the green-lipped mussel. $195/person.
Molesworth Tours offers personalised tours of some of Marlborough’s most recognised wineries. The tour driver is actually a grape grower, so expect expert information on the region and the industry. Molesworth Tours will pick its guests up from accommodation in Blenheim or Picton.
Half Day Personalised Wine Tour: 4 wineries of your choice, plus the Prenzel distillery. Departs at 12:30. $65/person.
Full Day Personalised Wine Tour: visit wineries of your choice, plus boutique chocolate factory, olive oil tasting, distillery or art gallery. Departs at 10:30. $85/person.
Awatere Valley Wine Tour and Cultural Experience: tasting of Awatere(an area about 30 minutes south of Blenheim) wines, lunch at an historic country estate, olive oil tasting, and a visit to a farm. $195/person.
Na Clachan offers wine tours for small groups (maximum 11 people) and flexible itineraries guided by an experienced wine grower. Na Clachan offers pick-ups from Blenheim, Picton and Havelock ($5 extra for Havelock and Picton pick-ups).
Half Day: begins at noon, ends at 5pm. Half Day tours come with the possibility of including a lunch stop (lunch at own cost). $60/person (with lunch stop) or $55/person (without lunch stop).
Full Day: starts at 10am, ends at 5pm and includes a lunch stop (lunch at own cost). $85/person.
River Queen: includes a riverboat cruise down the Opawa River, lunch on the boat and an afternoon wine tour. $119/person.
Expect a fun and informative trip from Sounds Connection. Sounds Connection boasts wine-passionate guides as well as years of experience running a variety of tours around Marlborough, both on sea and land.
Half Day Wine Tour: visit 4-5 wineries. Departs at 1:30pm and returns at 5pm. $65/person.
Full Day Wine Tour: visit 6-7 wineries with a lunch stop (lunch at own cost). Departs at 10:30am and returns at 5:30pm. $89/person.
Gourmet Wine Experience: this tour involves talking to the winemakers, a wine and food matched lunch at Allan Scott Winery, a visit to Johanneshof Cellars, Wither Hills, Cloudy Bay and the Makana Chocolate Factor. Departs Picton at 10:15am and Blenheim at 10:45am. $199/person.
Taste Marlborough tours take guests to selected, boutique and iconic wineries around Marlborough, with a lunch stop at Drylands winery restaurant (lunch at own cost). Travel Marlborough also offers a private wine tours for groups, including conference delegations. Lunch is additional cost. Choose from suggested itineraries or design your own.
Full Day: pick-up at 9:15 (Picton) or 9.45 (Blenheim) and lasts for about 6/6.5 hours. $230/person.
Forget the minibus and give ‘Wine Tours By Bike’ a shot. Just like the name implies, this operator eschews the traditional mode of transport in favour of something a little more eco-friendly and fun.
Instead of a guided tour, ‘Wine Tours By Bike’ will help you plan a route based on your wants and needs, then they set you up with a bicycle, helmet, bottled water and winery map and set you free. This twist on the traditional wine tour is a fun way to see Marlborough wine country.
Adult bike hire up to 4 hours: $42/person
Adult bike hire up to 8 hours: $58/person
If you have a designated driver and a rental car (hired, of course, from your favourite Picton car rental agency!), you can always choose to design your own tour. Check out the Wine Marlborough website for a PDF map of the wineries and information on the vineyards.
Have you been on a Marlborough wine tour? We’d love to hear what you thought about it! And let us know if we left any great operators off of our list.