Adelaide: The wine and street art capital of Australasia

For New Zealand lovers of wine, food, art and culture - Adelaide is the Australian holiday destination they should go to next.
Kiwi lovers of wine, food, art and culture should definitely put Adelaide on their destination bucket list. Photo credit: Getty / Newshub.

Recently I travelled to Adelaide for the first time and immediately began regretting having not holidayed there before.

It turns out I'm far from the first person to experience this.

As the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders, countless Australians from around the country visited South Australia for the first time instead of regular destinations like Bali, Aotearoa, Thailand and the US.

Adelaide is known as the country's 'boutique city' and is said to be "quickly becoming the lifestyle capital of Australia".

If you're into fine food, amazing wine, art and culture - all packaged into a relatively small area easy to get around - definitely consider it.

It's one direct flight away from Auckland, with the CBD just 15 minutes from the airport. On the city's doorstep is the great Outback, a handful of amazing peninsulas and beaches and the mighty Murray River.

Adelaide is one of the great wine capitals of the world alongside Bordeaux, Napa Valley and Mendoza. So of course there are countless fantastic wineries to explore, but that also means no matter where you eat out, you can expect some superb vino on offer.

The city has a cosmopolitan feel that's quite different to the other Australian cities I've travelled to, in a similar way to how San Francisco feels different to other American cities.

Although there is a Chinatown, much of the city has loads of restaurants representing all kinds of different cultures all right alongside each other and all mixed up. Then there's the Adelaide Central Market, an enormous fresh produce market that's been going for over 150 years and is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

One thing I can highly recommend to get an immediate flavour of the city is an EcoCaddy tour.

An ideal activity for your first day in Adelaide, this puts you in the back of a cycle-powered cart to travel about the CBD with a friendly guide explaining all the different areas you go through.

The specific tour I did focused on the city's street art - of which there is well over 100 pieces, adding to the San Fran vibe. Due to the 'Street Art Explosion' programme, Adelaide is chock full of eye-popping art which is added to with commissioned works every year.

Although EcoCaddy tours cost, you can of course explore the city art for free. As well as walking around, there are free bus and tram services around the central city.

Doing whatever you can for low or no cost might be a good idea as it'll allow more of your holiday budget to go toward all the amazing food and wine on offer.

Getting out of Adelaide into the surrounding areas of South Australia opens up access to a huge number of incredible wineries, most with incredible restaurants.

It takes a couple of hours or less to drive to Barossa, McLaren Vale or the Clare Valley; but the Penfolds Magill Estate Cellar Door is spectacular and just a 15 minute drive from the CBD.

There are two restaurants on the premises, both serving phenomenal food to go with a vast array of the iconic brand's drinks.

Magill Estate Kitchen lunch: Grilled wagyu, gnocci and duck leg with a Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz.
Grilled wagyu, gnocci and duck leg with a Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz at the Magill Estate Kitchen. Photo credit: Newshub.

There are also a number of tours one can go on at the winery. The ideal way to be told the remarkable story of Australia's most celebrated wine, the famous grange, is right there in its birthplace.

Originally frowned upon by the powers that be in the mid-20th century, a legend named Max Schubert crafted grange initially in secret in the depths of the Penfolds cellars.

Standing in those very cellars and learning his story with a glass of grange in hand is truly a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

And that's just one of the locations a wine fan can check out on a trip to South Australia. It'll take dozens of repeat journeys to explore enough of them, I reckon.

Newshub travelled to Adelaide as a guest of the South Australian Tourism Commission