Most people probably won't have heard of Renwick. It is one of those small New Zealand towns that you could drive through in a minute and not be any the wiser. What makes Renwick special though is that it is in the heart of NZ's largest wine region – the Marlborough wine region.
The area around Renwick was where many of our first vineyards were planted. Today those vineyards cover the length and breadth of our entire valley and beyond. Wine is undoubtedly the main reason that you would visit this area. The wineries in this area are tightly clustered with more than 15 wineries within a four to five-kilometre radius.
For great winery lunches in this area try Wairau River winery, which does consistently delicious food, Cloudy Bay's Jack's Raw Bar for local seafood or Allan Scott for burgers and steak sandwiches. Visit Forrest Estate, Nautilus, Jackson Estate or Framingham wineries for lovely places to while away a few hours outdoors on a beanbag with a glass of wine or wine tasting trays and a cheeseboard.
For wineries that provide that small boutique experience where you will often be served by the owner, visit Te Whare Ra, Gibson Bridge, Bladen or Huia. Moa Brewery is also a local haunt and great for a locally brewed beer and a burger or pizza from its food truck. It also sells a sampling tray so you can try a range of beers.
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The Vines Village is a great little hub in the area offering a cafe, bike hire, shops, the Whitehaven cellar door and a gin room where you can try the Roots Dry Gin which is distilled on-site. If you are an art lover visit the Dudson Scott Gallery where local artist Joanna Dudson Scott displays her stunning landscape paintings. And Windsong Orchard is a little hidden gem that sells organic plums and blueberries.
A couple of kilometres from Renwick is our beautiful Wairau River. This braided river runs the length of our valley and has numerous great swimming holes. A local favourite is off the end of Boyces Rd. Our valley is surrounded by mountains and one of the best ways to really enjoy the scenery is to hire a bike and explore the cycle trails and quiet country roads that surround Renwick.
Some of our best dinner spots are hidden among the vines. The Harvest Restaurant based at the Marlborough Lodge gets rave reviews as does Arbour.
One of the best things about visiting this area is that everyone is friendly and relaxed and the winery experiences are non-pretentious. You don't need to be a wine aficionado to have an enjoyable day in our wine region.
It's worth putting aside a couple of days to experience this area before exploring the rest of what Marlborough has to offer – the Marlborough Sounds and Picton, the Queen Charlotte Track, the Link Pathway, the Wither Hills or the amazing Omaka Aviation museum.
Karen Walshe, is the owner of Explore Marlborough.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com