Who doesn't love New Zealand wine? or wine in general. Wine is never cheap, nor should it be, which is why we buy bottles of it in supermarkets to drink at home rather than one glass from a bar. See, we can make sacrifices in this recession.
There is actually nothing I like more (other than halloumi) than at least one glass of red wine. It genuinely makes me feel better about myself and in a world of criticism and self-loathing I feel I am justified in my adoration for it.
As a backpacker in New Zealand I wasn't expecting red wine every night but similar to the new wave of backpackers I am not about to throw my taste buds away in exchange for jagerbombs and shots of tequila.
The apparent recession here has not forced supermarkets or liquor stores to seriously drop their prices. Ok, there are some very cheap wines but the idea is not to skimp on quality and give yourself a headache - they also use part of a fish to make that wine.
So, how do you get to taste the sensational wines New Zealand has to offer on a backpackers budget? Take one of New Zealand's famous wine tours.
New Zealand Wine Pro offers the chance to visit the largest privately owned wine company in New Zealand, Maungakiekie/Villa Maria Estate for a picnic. Better known to some as Cornwall Park in Auckland the estate is situated on Ihimatoo Peninsula and offers visitors 360 degree views of Auckland and it's famous volcano Rangitoto. For $99 you can try 8 award winning wines and you get a picnic of breads and antipasto as well as all your transport.
If you have a little more money to spend and happen to find yourself in one of New Zealand's famous wine regions Waipara, then try Discovery Travel for a half day sampling of any of the 20+ wines available at the 4 different wineries they take you to. They also give you lunch which is an incredible platter of breads, cheese, meats and seafood. A pretty good feed if you have been on the road for a while. All this plus tea or coffee and your guide costs you $105.
For the active wine drinker, try taking a Wine tour by bike. Around 5km from Blenheim is a place called Marlborough where you can cycle to wineries until your heart's desire. For $55 you can get a bike and helmet, water, map, advice, and wine pannier for 8 hours. This also gets you a recovery service should you break down along the way.
For a real good deal head to Nelson and book on to a Bay Tours New Zealand wine tour. Only $78 and you get to visit 3 vineyards and a brewery on the way home. Best time to go is between April and October because this is when you can try the cheese platter too. You get the option to buy lunch in a gorgeous vineyard garden setting which is a bit more costly but Bay Tours gives you $5 off this so you can maybe treat yourself.
Hawke's Bay is another famous New Zealand wine region and also offers the best deal I could find in New Zealand. Grape Escape will take you to 4-5 wineries and a cheese factory for $65.
If these are all still out of your budget then walk in to a bar, order a large glass of New Zealand wine and savour it. You are in New Zealand, it would not be right if you didn't sample the local produce.
It really doesn't matter if you are on a backpackers budget, it really is easy enough to get your hands on some of the country's finest with a New Zealand wine tour.
Thanks to cloudwine.com.au, easymix.co.nz and discovery360.com for the images