New Zealand


  1. History of New Zealand
  2. New Zealand Wine in Context
  3. Land & Climate
  4. New Zealand Wine Law
  5. Grapes of New Zealand
  6. North Island
  7. South Island
  8. Bibliography

New Zealand was a latecomer to winemaking in the Southern Hemisphere, with the first vines planted in 1819. Vineyards were established in Chile and Argentina around 100 years before the first European, Abel Tasman, even set eyes on New Zealand, in 1642. New Zealand’s initial plantings were in Kerikeri, in what is now Northland, a region that continues to make a small amount of wine in humid conditions. The cuttings were brought to the country from Australia by English missionary Samuel Marsden. There is no record of the wine these vines produced, if any, but in Marsden’s diary of September 25, 1819, he notes, “New Zealand promises to be very favorable to the wine, as far as I can judge at present of the nature of the soils and climate. Should it succeed it will prove of vast importance in this part of the globe.” More than 200 years later, his prediction has come true, but due to a blend of social, cultural, and legal impediments, it has taken a long time for New Zealand to fulfil its potential. 

History of New Zealand

The major wave of migration to New Zealand in the 19th century came from Britain, a whisky-drinking, beer-swilling nation. There was no tradition of growing grapevines in Britain at that time, whereas the Spanish missionaries exported their wine culture to South America, and Central Europeans shipped vines to their new homes in South Australia. There were a few wine buffs among the British, including Scottish-born James Busby, who landed in New Zealand in 1833 and brought in cuttings he had previously imported to Sydney, Australia. Records suggest that these vines were responsible for producing the country’s first wine. In 1840, French naval officer Jules Dumont d’Urville tasted the fruits of Busby’s vines, having rowed ashore from his ship Astrolabe. In his journal,

  • This link shows how the Southern Hemisphere experiences "very high" UV ratings.

  • So New Zealand's higher UV radiation is not primarily due to the proximity of the Ozone Hole in general. While there can be some effect, it's actually for three main reasons:

    1. Overall, the Southern Hemisphere has higher UV radiation due to the Earth's elliptical orbit. The Earth is closer to the Sun during the Southern Hemisphere's summer which contributes to a 7% increase in UV.

    2. The Southern Hemisphere has less ozone not due to the hole, but because of how the generation of ozone works. The Southern Hemisphere is 10% more efficient in distributing ozone from the equator to higher latitudes in the summer months which leads to less ozone. In other words it's dissipating faster so it has a lower concentration. This is when the hole is at its smallest or "closed."

    3. New Zealand, specifically, has cleaner air (as mentioned in the guide). Pollution scatters UV radiation more and New Zealand has less pollution than many other areas. I'd argue that the Southern Hemisphere as a whole has less pollution as well.

    In fact, when the ozone hole is the largest starting around September and October (spring), New Zealand has its highest concentration of ozone. While I didn't find and specific reason, looking at pictures and video about this phenomenon, my guess is that as the hole expands, it creates a wall. As ozone forms at the equator and moves to higher latitudes, this "wall" compresses the ozone meaning higher concentration. When the hole closes in the summer, then more normal ozone concentrations occur which is 300 Dobson Units over New Zealand. See the last link for videos about this. I also attached a pic from this site to show the hole during a 40 year period. Red is the highest ozone while dark blue is the lowest.

    With that said, I found an article that mentions the prevailing winds during the spring will briefly expand that hole over New Zealand, but now I can't find it. It definitely affects the climate, but not in the way

  • Hey Thomas! Ōhau is still unofficial as it is not within the GI registry. Maybe as other producers start up there will be a movement towards solidifying it. 

  • It seems like there is a new additional sub-region on the west coast of the Northern Island called Ōhau. 

  • Hey Anthony! Would you mind highlighting the page you are talking about, as the Compendium features the 2022 NZ winegrowers data.

  • There’s an inconsistency between this guide and the compendium regarding top white variety plantings. The guide states Sauvignon Blanc then Chardonnay, whereas the compendium states Chardonnay and then Sauvignon Blanc (citing a 2014 NZ winegrowers Report) 

  • Hey Brandon! Gibbston is further west with a longitude of 168.9568° E vs Wanaka's 169.1417° E. The guide is updated. Thanks! 

  • "Wanaka, the furthest west portion of Central Otago, is the wettest part of the region,"

    Is Gibbston not the furthest west subregion of Central Otago GI? Thanks

  • Thank you, Jennifer!

  • They are both subregions of Canterbury GI -AND- Waipara Valley is nested entirely within North Canterbury GI. The Compendium follows the nomenclature by the Intellectual Property Office of NZ. The North Canterbury GI was established after Waipara Valley GI, which is probably why both are listed as subregions of Canterbury.