Chasing the Vine: New Zealand’s Vineyard Marathons

Take an active approach to exploring New Zealand’s wine regions with a range of vineyard marathons.

Take an active approach to exploring New Zealand’s wine regions with a range of vineyard marathons.

From the wild hillsides to sunbaked plains and curving golden sand beaches, the wine regions of New Zealand produce full-bodied reds and aromatic whites. The combination of great landscapes and award-winning wines is hard to resist – and what better way to earn that indulgent glass or two than with a vineyard marathon?

Whether you’re a “social” runner or a serious athlete, you’ll find a trail for every fitness level. Each marathon or half-marathon provides a way to experience the regions, from cellar doors and across beachfronts to winding island roads. With a flagship vineyard at the end of each run, you’ll also have the perfect motivation to reach the finish line.

These three key events – from the inaugural Waiheke Island Half-Marathon in Auckland to the Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of the North Island, and down to Marlborough at the top of the South Island – will take you past a vast number of New Zealand vineyards.

Waiheke Half Marathon – 5 May, 2018

The island of Waiheke, in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, is blessed with extraordinary natural features. Its ancient rock base, marine position and warmth have given rise to many of Waiheke’s award-winning vineyards, which produce primarily red wines such as syrah.

The inaugural Explore Waiheke Half-Marathon will give runners and wine lovers exceptional access to the island’s best features. The 2018 event will take place on Saturday 5 May 2018, beginning and ending in Cable Bay vineyards. You’ll follow the predominantly flat course all over the western tip of the island, hitting the coastline on several sides, all with a different sea view. And those same cool sea breezes that do special things to the island’s grapes will also help to get you through the run.

Travel Tips

A 35-minute crossing from downtown Auckland on a regular ferry, Waiheke is a sensational destination for those exploring the Auckland region. With varied terrain and a fresh sea breeze, the island offers plenty of action, including kayaking, mountain biking and zip-lining.

Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon – 12 May, 2018

The Marlborough region packs a punch when it comes to New Zealand wine, in particular with its world-class sauvignon blanc. Its broad slopes produce more than three-quarters of New Zealand’s grapes by weight, making the region a significant player in terms of volume as well as quality.

Marlborough sauvignon blanc is well-established but the region’s second-largest varietal is its fantastic pinot noir. The hills that surround the wine-growing areas enjoy consistently sunny and dry weather – making it good for grapes and great for exploring.

The 10th Saint Clair marathon on Saturday, 12 May 2018, takes its course through some of the region’s best-known vineyards. Beginning at the Saint Clair cellar door, you’ll wind your way through the Allan Scott and Cloudy Bay wineries, along riversides and through the vineyards, all the while surrounded by the sunny Marlborough hills on the horizon.

Travel Tips

Marlborough’s rivers are perfect for swimming, the hills ideal for trekking, and the blue waters of the Queen Charlotte Sounds are a wonderful spot to fish or swim with dolphins. To get there take a three-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from Wellington on the North Island to Picton, on the Interislander or simply drive up the scenic coast from Christchurch. There are regular flights into Blenheim Airport from Auckland and Wellington.

Hawke’s Bay International Marathon – 12 May, 2018

Like its rich red wines, including merlot as well as Bordeaux blends, and whites such as chardonnay, the Hawke’s Bay region is a place to savour. Sitting on the east coast of the North Island, Hawke’s Bay is a sweeping half-circle sheltered from the north by the Mahia Peninsula down to Cape Kidnappers in the south. Its reputation as a holiday spot is as well-established as its internationally-regarded wines.

The Air New Zealand Hawke’s Bay International Marathon, on 12 May, 2018, takes place right in the centre of the region, with a track traversing a variety of terrains. Flat and gentle for the most part, the marathon begins at the Napier waterfront before heading up through spectacular scenery, while the half-marathon and 10-kilometre run take you through privately owned vineyards and groves of olive trees towards the cellar doors of Sileni Estates vineyard. With a kids’ run in the afternoon and post-race festivities, there is no reason to stop once the race is over.

Travel Tips

Hawke’s Bay is renowned for the Art Deco architecture in Napier as well as its remarkably sunny weather. Easy access to the water and beaches make it simple for you to enjoy the sunshine. Get outdoors with a game of golf on Cape Kidnappers or climb Te Mata Peak for a 360-degree view. Napier is an easy flight from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch on Air New Zealand.