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22 May 2013
Wine tourism has long been popular in California and France, but those who want to experience the finest in viticulture should waste no time in adding New Zealand to that list. This nation, located on two main islands in the South Pacific, has recently beaten its own record for gold medals in the International Wine and Spirits Competition. New Zealand wines earned more than 300 awards at the UK-based event, including 15 gold medals for "best in class", beating red and white wines from all over the world.
With this international acclaim comes an upsurge in interest in New Zealand wines. People in the United States are purchasing almost 22% more New Zealand wine this year than last, but another sign of interest is an increase in wine tourism in the southern hemisphere. Tourists who fly to New Zealand often concentrate their attention on Auckland; in addition to being the nation's largest city, it is also at the heart of New Zealand wine production.
Travelling through the wine country around Auckland also means taking a panoramic tour of some of the loveliest scenery New Zealand has to offer. The city lies on a narrow isthmus on New Zealand's northern island and is one of the worlds few cities situated between two major harbors. This gives it a diversity of scenery that is unlike anything that most visitors have ever seen.
Arranging car hire in New Zealand for just a single day will allow tourists to view the dozens of volcanic cones that dot the local area, which is blanketed by hills covered in deep green rainforest foliage. Less than an hour's drive from Auckland are several beaches; these feature exotic coal-black sands that stand out in stark contrast to the brilliant blue waters of the Tasman Sea.
Wine Tours around Auckland
Many wine tours in New Zealand allow visitors to spend the morning sightseeing and the afternoons enjoying a variety of fine vintages on site, at three or even four different wineries. Many themed tours follow this format, with the morning hours varying from hiking tropical waterfalls trails to walking along the beach.
Other tours focus on a single vineyard during the morning hours, with tourists being invited inside the winery facilities to learn about all aspects of viticulture. Gourmet lunches of several courses, each paired with an appropriate wine selection, are a common feature on such tours. Afterwards, guests are given the option of returning to their New Zealand hotels or continuing on to several other wineries.
Because Auckland produces fine wines on its east and west coasts, some tours encompass both, taking visitors across the entire isthmus for a comprehensive opportunity to see and taste the widest possible variety of wines in the region.
New Zealand has always been a nation with captivating scenery, but with a wine tour, visitors can now literally "drink it in".
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