Roughly 16 miles west of the city, Kumeu is New Zealand’s oldest wine-producing area known for its pinot gris, merlot, and syrah grapes. Boutique, family-run wineries flourish here, such as Kumeu River
, owned by the Brajkovich family, who produce internationally acclaimed chardonnays. At these small establishments, winemakers and owners may host tastings and even take guests on vineyard tours. Don’t leave Kumeu without visiting its black-sand beaches, prime for surfing, and listening to live music during a meal at The Riverhead
, the country’s oldest tavern, established in 1857.
Matakana, a 41-mile scenic drive north of Auckland along the east coast, is another easy half-day wine excursion. Visit on a Saturday, when the Matakana Village Farmers’ Market
fills with vendors (open 8 am to 1 pm) and family-run wineries open their doors.
The region, popular with locals for its beaches and arts scene, produces red and white grape varieties, such as albariño, cabernet sauvignon, and nebbiolo. Cushing recommends Brick Bay Wines
for its outdoor trail of large-scale sculptures by New Zealand artists. She sums up an ideal Matakana day: “You sip wine, walk, take in art, and enjoy the outdoors.”