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Wine Tasting Near Rotorua – Your Ultimate Guide

22 March 2023



If you’re a wine enthusiast planning a trip to New Zealand, be sure to put Rotorua on your list of must-visit destinations. This geothermal wonderland is not only known for its bubbling hot springs and stunning landscapes but also for its unique wineries. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the top places to go wine tasting in Rotorua and give you some tips outlining how best to experience them. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or simply looking for a fun activity to do during your stay, Rotorua’s wineries are sure to impress.

What’s famous about Rotorua’s wineries?

Image credit: @volcanichillswinery

Most of the wine regions in New Zealand are located along the eastern coastlines of the North and South Islands. Each area enjoys unique soils and climates, which provide the grapes with their unique, award-winning characteristics.

The nearby Hawke’s Bay is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in New Zealand. With more than 200 vineyards, this region produces around 90% of New Zealand’s Syrahs, Cabernets, and Merlots. The central Otago region on the South Island experiences a hot and dry climate. These conditions help create the perfect growing environment for New Zealand’s most famous red wine, Pinot Noir.

The history of winemaking in Rotorua

Keen ‘amateur’ winemaker and British resident, James Busby, first brought grapes into New Zealand in 1836. Missionaries in Hawke’s Bay established the oldest existing vineyard in 1851. At the time, these early winemakers produced most of the wine for religious purposes or family consumption only.

Most famous local wines

Sauvignon Blanc is now the most widely planted white variety, with Chardonnay coming in at a close second. Other popular whites include Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Cabernet Sauvignon is a popular red – but Pinot Noir is the most commonly planted red variety, followed by Merlot and Syrah.

Relax in the Volcanic Hills wine tasting room

Image credit: @volcanichillswinery

Since 2009, the Volcanic Hills Winery has produced wine from grapes grown in the country’s best regions. The grapes are transported to the Volcanic Hills Winery located at the base of the Skyline Rotorua Gondola. Here, they are turned into delicious wines so visitors – and locals – can experience unforgettable wine tasting in Rotorua.

Take a leisurely Skyline Gondola ride up Mount Ngongotaha to visit the Volcanic Hills tasting room. Enjoy some of New Zealand’s most recognised wines with a magnificent view over Lake Rotorua.

The Volcanic Hills range includes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Blanc de Blanc, Syrah, Pinot Noir, and a seasonal Rosé. After your wine tastings, stay for some delectable food with an a la carte dining experience to accompany your wines and panoramic views. Buy Volcanic Hills tasting room packages with your Skyline Gondola ticket at the station at 178 Fairy Springs Road, Rotorua.

Itinerary options for Rotorua wine tasting

Image credit: @viligrad

Take a wine-tasting tour

During your visit to Rotorua, plan a leisurely trip to a nearby vineyard to sample New Zealand’s delicious wines. The stunning scenery and landscape provide the perfect wine-tasting backdrop.

Do you love hearing about history as you taste wines? Vilagrad Winery offers 1.5-hour wine-tasting tours just outside Rotorua town. Join cellar masters for an informative tour of the vineyards. Learn about the wine-making process and the history behind New Zealand’s wine industry. In the tasting room, you’ll enjoy a comprehensive selection of Vilagrad’s medal-winning New Zealand wines and food options.

Why not celebrate a special event such as a birthday or family get-together? The restaurant serves a Mediterranean spit roast buffet every Saturday at noon.

Vilagrad Winery is at 702 Rukuhia Road, Ōhaupō; a 1.5-hour drive from Rotorua.

Stay the evening

No need to rush back to Rotorua after you’ve savoured the taste of Vilagrad’s full-bodied wines. Stay the night nestled in peaceful accommodation amongst the vines at Vilagrad Winery.

Enjoy public transport

Rotorua buses operate 11 convenient routes from the Arawa Street interchange. You can buy tickets from the driver or visit the i-SITE tourist information centre for day saver passes.

Ready to explore Rotorua?

Don’t forget to take the Skyline Rotorua Gondola up to Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar to eat incredible food and savour a glass or two of award-winning wine. Check out more articles on our blog for more exciting ideas on things to do and see during your visit.


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