So this time we're suggesting you go significantly further afield but we promise you, it will be worth it.
Our adoration of New Zealand wines are no secret, (see our NZ wine blog post) but we believe that are more than justified in our biased opinion.
So, now we've sold you on the adventure, where do we go first?
You are quite likely to land in Auckland. As cities go, we rate it 'meah'. The harbour is nice but the traffic is horrendous and paradise is closer than you might think.
Waiheke is a small island about 40 mins by ferry off the coast of Auckland. I can't stress enough that this is where you should be, not Auckland. Known as the Island of Wine and with its own micro-climate, the island is becoming an award winning producer of Syrah and Chardonnay. Some of the better producers include Kennedy Point (where they also have accommodation) and Man O War.
If you want to take a short cut there, you can even pay one of the local island flying services to bring you to Auckland airport. We took this shortcut back - the flight was staggeringly beautify and it was very cool (and odd) to be a Cessna following an A380 into land.
Check out the Waiheke wine website.
You more professional winos might have heard a lot of fuss about Gimblett Gravels.
No, this is not a character from Lord of the Rings but is an area of farmland that was historically deemed fit for nothing given the gravelly nature (hence the name). Some eejit thought that it would be a great idea to try and grow wine there and all the locals found this highly amusing. Until it turned out that the wine there is really, really good.
Wine is often best produced in areas where the vines have to work hard and this is very much the case here. If you like full bodied reds in particular, this is a great place to stop. Wineries are too many to mention (though Craggy Range as a particularly prolific award winner deserves a shout) but details can be found here.
Last time we visited we did a supper tour starting with a craft brewery and then taking in a different winery for each course which was particularly good fun. Don't plan leaving the area too early the next day. Details here.
Now, moving south through stunning scenery you'll come across the quaint town of Martinborough. While Sauvignon Blanc was the initial darling of New Zealand, Pinot Noir was following close behind. The winery leading the change for this was Martinborough Vineyards - check them out here. To be honest, it was there wines that made us fall in love with Pinot. While many other stunners have followed, you always remember your first.
There are lots of wineries dotted near the cute square of the town and most accept visitors. Many will even feed you. For more information see here.
The ones we would recommend are Ata Rangi (top end but stunning wines), Martinborough Vineyards (our old flame), Escarpment (fantastic up and coming winery, call for appointment) and Schubert (who produce fabulously elegant and complex wines).
Time your trip to the region properly (November) and you can join in with the excellent Toast Martinborough festival where lots of the local vineyards and food merchants show their wares.
No time to travel around the vineyards, pop a squat in Martinborough Wine Merchants in the centre of town who have a fabulous selection of local wines and can also arrange some wine walks and cycle hire.
After your wine tasting, make sure you pop into the most amazing chocolate shop in nearby Greytown called Schoc Chocolates - see their website here.
It's just a short ferry hop from North to South Island and a short drive and you'll find yourself in Blenheim - mecca for all the lovers of Sauvignon Blanc - in Marlborough, the largest wine growing region in New Zealand. The wineries here are reasonably well spread out but are reachable if you rent a bike (and can make for an interesting cycle home post wine tasting.)
The places to definitely visit are Huia Vineyards (you'll pass en route to Blenheim, superb selection of wines outside of your Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc but both of them are excellent), Spy Valley (who produces a Sauvignon Blanc that is probably our favourite white wine as well as some other stellar offerings) Saint Claire (who have excellent wines and for the fitness freaks also hold an annual marathon!).
Having driven south and said hello to some whales, you'll find yourself in the amazing city of Christchurch. While still very much scarred from the horrific earthquake in 2011, the City is absolutely worth for great foods, wines, beers and fabulous people.
Nearby the wine region of Waipara can be found. Some of the most famous New Zealand wines come from here including Pegasus Bay, a personal favourite which also has an amazing restaurant. The region is foodie / wino heaven and there are a number of excellent food and wine trails to follow including the North Canterbury Trail and the Selwyn Food and Wine trail.
Fancy something a bit different to do here? Why not try a hot air ballon at dawn above the Canterbury plains....
Now our destination that is furthest South and home to stunning, rich, complex, black fruit Pinot Noir is Central Otago. Better to base yourself in the lively as hell town of Queenstown (the town of Otago is so dead...) which is set around a stunning lake surrounded by breathtaking mountains (and good skiing). Take the Skyline cable car to admire the view, grab possibly the worlds greatest burger at Fergberger, and overdose on adrenaline on the Shotover Jet (for those afraid of heights) or do a bungy in the home of bungy (for those afraid of water). Then book a guide bus to take you around the Otago vineyards (for those of you rightly arias of tourists in rental cars on windy roads).
From here the must sees are Mount Difficulty (who do an amazing lunch - must book), Felton Road (one of the most renowned New Zealand pinot noirs), Wild Earth (set in the ruins of where they mined gold from the rivers with still equipment lying around! Oh, and amazing wines) and Chard Farm (a little off the beaten track but with the trip).