There are a number of wine producing regions in New Zealand. The list below is in order from north to south.
Vines were first grown in Northland back in 1819. It seems ironic then that this region is the smallest wine producing area today. Located closer to the equator than any other New Zealand region means warmer temperatures when ripening of grapes occur. This favours the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay which are produced here.
The suburbs of Henderson, Kumeu, and Huapai are the main wine producing areas. The most popular wines produced here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Matakana just north of Auckland city produces good Cabernet Sauvignon. Waiheke Island located about 40 minutes by ferry from Downtown Auckland also produces high quality red wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.
Located on the most easterly part of New Zealand and 12 hours ahead of GMT, Gisborne is the first wine region in the world to see the sun each day. And what a sun it is. This part of New Zeland has hot dry summers and is sheltered from strong winds. Wines produced here are mainly whites with Chardonnay being the main variety.
The second biggest producer of wines in the country is the Hawke's Bay region. With a big range of micro-climates and differing landscapes, this allows a wide variety of grapes to grow from Chardonnay to red grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.
The Wairarapa is part of the Wellington region and is located on the eastern side of the Rimutaka and Tararua ranges with the capital city Wellington located on the more exposed western side. The climate in Waiarapa is warmer and drier than Wellington city making it a great place to grow grapes. Pinot Noir a black wine grape is the most common, but the area also produces award winning Sauvignon Blanc even though this region is much smaller compared than many others.
The Nelson region is famous for it arts and crafts and great climate. This combination also makes it a good place for producing wine. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Noir account for most grapes grown here. Although not a main wine producing area, Nelson grows many other fruits making agriculture a big industry in here.
Marlborough is the biggest wine producing region in the country amounting to almost half of New Zealand's total crop. With high sunshine hours and a warm dry climate, this favours Sauvignon Blanc which this region has managed to produce at award winning and world class level. Some wine experts believe that Marlborough is the best place in the world to grow Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
There are two main wine areas in Canterbury. The older area surrounding the city and Waipara which is north of the city. Most grape varieties include Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc are also popular.
The world's most southerly wine producing area is Central Otago. It is located at high altitude with a continental climate. The result is the most extreme climate in the country while the rest of New Zeland has a maritime climate due to being located near the sea. The maritime climate of New Zealand results in smaller temperature variation throughout the year. Central Otago with its continenatl climate gets very cold in winter, but has long hot and dry summers. This allows many fruits to be grown here including Pinot Noir with some Chardonnay grape varieties among others.