3 November 2020

Top Things To Do in Martinborough, NZ Weekend Guide

Martinborough is a charming town in the Wairarapa, famous in New Zealand for its surrounding world-class vineyards, most within walking or cycling distance from the village square. As well as the picturesque wineries surrounded by rolling green hills, it's packed with colonial charm and some great foodie spots serving up gourmet local cuisine. 

This guide is aimed to give a little inspiration if you are looking at a weekend or short getaway in Martinborough, drawn from my own recent experience with honest recommendations and costs included. There is of course so much more to do in the Wairarapa as a whole, you could easily spend several days there exploring this beautiful region of the North Island.

Where To Stay 

My husband and I stayed at Peppers Parehua and we would highly recommend it. It was $190 NZD per night (and we stayed for three) and that included a cooked-to-order breakfast each morning. 

As we were staying during weekdays and it was a quieter time of year, they kindly upgraded us to a Lakeside Cottage which was a welcome surprise. The room was very spacious with a super king bed, a reading nook, a separate lounge with a cosy fireplace, a private balcony with a lovely lake view, a spa bath and a well-equipped kitchenette.

Our private balcony with a lake view

They offer good facilities including an onsite restaurant The Pavillion, an outdoor bar, a swimming pool (summer use only), a tennis court and more.

Located a ten-minute walk to town, it's in a nice and quiet spot and we had a very relaxing stay. They have onsite bicycles for hire to explore nearby wineries, and as a bonus, there is one directly across the road (Palliser Estate) which became one of our top favourites.

To top it off, the staff were very lovely and accommodating, the WiFi is strong, there's free parking and we would 100% stay there again.

There are a number of other accommodation options available in Martinborough including B&Bs, motels, vineyard villas and the iconic Martinborough Hotel located directly in the village square.

The Martinborough Hotel

If you have a couple of days up your sleeve, here are some of the top must-do's in Martinborough.

Explore the Wineries

Featuring over 20 wineries, Martinborough is at the heart of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. Most are easily accessible by bike or foot and you can pick up self-guided maps from the Information Centre or the Wine Merchants shop just off the village square. The map displays the locations, which cellar doors are open on each day and the opening hours. 

Several bike hire companies can be found in the village and accommodation providers. Most I saw were going for around $30-$40 NZD per day.

Frollicking amogst the vines

Martinborough is known for producing some of New Zealand’s best pinot noir, but you'll find a wide range of excellent wine varieties including riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, syrah, pinot gris and more.

My husband and I visited around eight of the local wineries in total (plenty more left to visit for future trips!). A few of our favourites that we would highly recommend include: Te Kairanga - they have a lovely outdoor area with picnic tables to enjoy the tastings and the cutest dog.

Te Kairanga

Te Waiwaka - we were completely charmed by the very cool owner and beautiful vineyard.

Luna Estate - a beautiful, modern vineyard (would be a great venue for a wedding) and the food coming from the restaurant smelled delicious (we'll have to try there next time).

Te Waiwaka
Luna Estate

Palliser Estate - take a seat at the bar, in a separate sunny room or outside with a vineyard view. We loved their wines the most and even visited twice.

All of these places we found the atmosphere to be especially great, the staff friendly and knowledgable, and the wines impressive.

Enjoying a drop at Palliser Estate

At each cellar door, tastings are typically $10 per person (including 6-10 or more tastings) and the fee is waived if you purchase a bottle. 

Martinborough's vineyards are predominately family-owned so it's a wonderful cause to support local Kiwi businesses, back your backyard and enjoy some of the best fruits of the country while you're at it. Win - win!

Wine & Dine

There's no shortage of incredible places to eat, you are in great hands in Martinbourough. A few of the places we ate at and would recommend include: Moy Hall Vineyard - we had an incredible lunch with locally sourced produce and you can sit amongst the picturesque vines.

Lunch at Moy Hall

Union Square Bistro & Bar - we had dinner there one night and it was hearty and delicious. They also serve local beers on tap (and wine of course).  

In The Neighbourhood - a popular cafe and coffee house, we had lunch there one day and loved the atmosphere. They also have a cool side ice cream window, perfect on a summers day!

In The Neighbourhood Cafe

The Pavillion - we had dinner at our hotel's onsite restaurant twice (one was room service after a particularly hard day of vineyard-hopping) and the food was well presented and tasty. It was also conveniently located but worth a visit even if you aren't staying at Peppers Parehua.

OMG - Oh My Goodness Cafe is a great spot for breakfast or lunch, with a set menu as well as cabinet food, they do full breakfasts and amazing OMG burgers.

C'est Cheese - As a top tip, on the way to Martinborough, stop in Featherstop at their local cheese shop and artisan deli, C'est Cheese. They offer tastings of their delicious handmade cheeses (their brie is incredible). We picked up a couple to make our own cheese board to enjoy from the comfort of our hotel room. We sourced a few extra bits and pieces from the local Four Square supermarket in Martinborough.

Many cellar doors offer their own versions of cheese platters if you feel like indulging while sipping on your wine tastings.

You also can't go wrong with checking out TripAdvisor for more foodie inspiration and the top-rated restaurants in Martinborough.

Browse the Shops

Around the village square, there are some quaint shops to peruse if that takes your fancy. There's a bookshop, boutique clothing, home goods store, art and gift shops and more.

If you're after local wine or a selection of spirits, Martinborough Wine Merchants is the perfect store for just that. They also do bike hire, olive oil, honey, artisan products and gifts. You can also pick up your self-guided winery tour map from there and ask the ladies behind the counter any questions, they're very helpful and friendly.

Other Local Gems to Visit

Is wine not really your thing? Or perhaps it is, but you also love a good beer and/ or gin? Did you know Martinborough has its very own brewery and gin distillery? There's even a beautiful olive oil grove you can visit on the weekends.

Martinborough Brewery - is a boutique brewery close to the village square. With eight specialty handcrafted beers to try, it's a must-visit spot for any beer lover.

Lighthouse Gin - we tasted this local gin at Te Kairanga and were so impressed we bought a bottle. Inspired by the iconic Cape Palliser Lighthouse, the botanical flavours of the gin are unique and zesty.

Olivo - If you love delicious artisan olive oil then don't miss Olivio. The grove and tasting room are open on Saturdays, Sundays and every day throughout December and January. They run one-hour tours for $20 per person where you can experience behind the scenes of their production and includes tastings.

Only an hour outside of Wellington, Martinborough in the Wairarapa is the perfect place to indulge in a grape escape and relaxing weekend getaway. It's lovely to experience with a partner and it's super popular to have some fun with a bunch of girlfriends.

Do you have any other Martinborough recommendations to add? I'd love to read them in the comments below. Check out my blog post exploring Napier's wineries as well as full winery tour reviews from Canberra and Lisbon.

Head to my other recent New Zealand posts on Cape Palliser (also in the Wairarapa), Bay of Islands and Rotorua.

Safe Adventures,

* This post is not sponsored and includes my genuine recommendations.

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