Our Top 20 Things To Do From Martinborough
1. Biking round the vines on the famous Martinborough Wine Trail - which features over thirty largely family-owned wineries, most within walking distance of the village, and taking in lunch along the way. Only problem is being spoilt for choice, but here are the wineries which are open most of the time:
Alana Estate – daily 10.30am -5pm 06 306 9784
Ata Rangi - Open Weekends – Midday-4pm/Weekdays 1pm-3pm 06 306 9570
Canadoro Wines Open daily 11am-4pm 06 306 8801
Martinborough Vineyard – Open 11am-3pm daily 06 306 9955
Muirlea Rise – Open most days 11am-5pm 06 306 9332
Schubert Wines – Open most days 11am – 3pm 06 306 8505
Te Kairanga Wines – Open daily 10am – 5pm 06 306 9122
Tirohana Estate – Open daily 9am-6pm – 06 306 9933
Palliser Estate - Daily 10am-4pm. 06 306 9019
2. Explore the boutique shops, cafes and restaurants in the Martinborough township. Our favourite special occasion restaurant is Tirohana Estate. Dinner from 6pm Tues-Sun 06 306 9933
Our favourite Martinborough cheap eats stop is Siam Kitchen Thai Restaurant 06-3068068 No frills décor, but fantastic food.
We’re more than happy to book your restaurant.
3. The Cape Palliser day trip is our out-and-out favourite - in all weather moods too. Rain, hail or shine! The stunning landscapes constantly change with all the light variations coming in off the sea. The Cape is 72 k’s from Martinborough (about 1 hr 15 mins)
The Cape Palliser lighthouse was built in 1897 and the view is worth the hike up 258 steps.
Just before you reach the Cape Palliser lighthouse, you will spot one of New Zealand’s largest fur seal colonies. No problem getting out of your car to get closer to the seals for photos,. but the expert advice is not to get between them and their escape to the sea. They can get moody.
4. Another compulsory stop on Cape Palliser is the Putangirua Pinnacles, formed by 120,000 years of erosion – and a backdrop in Lord of the Rings. In Middle Earth the pinacles are on Dimholt Road in the Return of the King. There’s a two-hour long the stream-bed, or a longer 3 to 4 hour walk along a loop track.
The rugged fishing village of Ngawi is also on the way to Cape Palliser
Check-out the wild sea scenery with a lunch stop at the iconic Lake Ferry Pub on the Cape Palliser trip. They’re world famous for their fish and chips, and also offer whitebait fritters, crayfish and paua when available. Ph 307 7831
5. Our favourite wine stop outside Martinborough is the Gladstone Valley (15 mins away) and think it's really under-rated with its pretty landscapes, and emerging vineyards. Gladstone Vineyard is the perfect spot for lunch at weekends and has nice reasonably priced meals. Great atmosphere. 06 379 8563
Take the drive from Martinborough to Gladstone via the Ponataki Valley.
Other Gladstone Vineyards on the Wairarapa Wine Trail are:
Fairmont Estate 06 379 8498
Johner Estate 027 230 3008
Cottier Estate 06 370 3328
Mebus Estate 06 377 3696
and Thomsons Trail 06 370 2518.
6. Carter's Scenic Reserve near Gladstone offers easy walking through a rare mix of habitats once typical of the Wairarapa.
There are 2 short walks Kahikatea Walk: This 30 minute loop walks takes you through a flooded forest remnant in the Wairarapa.
Ruamahanga River Walk: This easy 20 minute walk follows the boardwalk through the Carter Scenic Reserve, a recovering wetland in the Wairarapa
7. Meet the locals at the famous Gladstone Inn - known as 'The Gladdy'. We reckon it's the best country pub in New Zealand. It has great food, is warm and cozy inside in winter, and has a beautiful outdoor setting for summer where you can admire the dramatic views of the cliffs and surrounding countryside. You won't want to leave ! Ph 06 372 7866
8. Also near Gladstone is Stonehenge Aotearoa - not so much a replica of England's ancient Stonehenge as a practical, open-sky observatory.
The astronomer tour guides are world class: Saturdays: 2pm, Sundays: 11am
Bookings essential 06 377 1600
9. Bike the new Greytown Rail Trail. It's the old railway corridor from Greytown to Woodside station. Starts at the end of Cotter Street. The first 2.5 kilometre section is open, with completion to Woodside station expected later in 2012.
10. Paua World offers multi coloured jewellery and gifts, along with a short film and a behind-the-scenes tour.
11. Take the 15 minute drive across to Greytown, brilliantly restored to reflect its colonial past, and now a boutique shopping paradise with many antique, arts and craft, gifts and design shops, plus its cafes and restaurants. Our favourite spots are Salute for lunch or dinner – and the French Baker for brunch.
12. We can highly recommend picking up a $10 box of fresh mushrooms at the Parkvale Mushroom factory – home of the famous Parkvale Flat. The factory is about 4 k’s before you get to Carterton on the route from Martinborough.
13. Relive some of New Zealand's rail history at the Fell Locomotive Museum in nearby Featherston. It houses the world's only Fell engine used on the Rimutaka Incline. Open 7 days 10am-4pm Ph 06 308 9379
14. One of One of the region's most popular attractions is Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, a 20-minute drive from Masterton, north on SH2 . There are wonderful walks through the native forest with close encounters with threatened wildlife. Feeding time for the eels is usually 1.30pm, and the wild kaka at 3pm. You can also encounter Kiwi in the nocturnal house. Open daily 9am to 4.30pm except Xmas Day Ph 06 375 8004
15. Keep driving north to Wairarapa's famous Mangatainoka's Tui Brewery- you can book a tour or drop into the bar and souvenir shop.
16. Book a Tranzit tour of distinctive gardens – Both the formal Richmond Gardens in Carterton and Assisi Garden high in the rural Gladstone hills are listed as NZ Gardens of National or Regional Significance. Tour includes lunch at the Gladstone Country Inn, and a wine tasting at one of Gladstone's vineyards
17. Castlepoint Beach is a spectacular day trip, with its giant limestone reef, lighthouse and landmark Castle Rock. It's Wairarapa's most spectacular beach and a popular summer camping ground.
18. Riversdale Beach is another day trip, with its long sandy beach, and has been a family resort for more than 50 years. There's good swimming, surfing, fishing and a friendly golf course
19. Waiohine Gorge, south of Carterton, makes a scenic entrance to Tararua Forest Park. Test the new swing bridge – reputed to be one of the country's longest.
20. North of Carterton, Mount Holdsworth, is the gateway to many famous tracks, offering anything from an hour's walk to several days tramping. There's plenty of shelter and picnic areas and you can swim in the crisp, clear rivers.