The Wairarapa at the southern end of North Island is an easy drive from Wellington, New Zealand. Named after the lake of the same name, this region that once made its money on sheep has diversified into viticulture, making it the perfect foodie weekend destination.
Explore Wairarapa New Zealand
Chow down in Martinborough
The leafy town of Martinborough has carved a niche for itself as a foodie’s paradise, with a range of excellent eateries to complement the local wine growing industry. Sample the local produce on the Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour which includes a stop at the oldest commercial olive grove in the region, giving you the opportunity to sample local olives, producing oils infused with smoked paprika, porcini and fennel. Moving on, your guide will take you to visit a chocolatier in nearby Greytown, featuring unusual flavour combinations such as lime chilli or ginger and wasabi. Finally, the tour heads back to Marlborough for an artisan cheese sampling.
Enjoy a wine tasting
If that’s given you a taste for more, then many of the local vineyards offer tours too. One of the stops on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, Martinborough’s wineries specialise in pinot noir. Time your visit to coincide with Toast Martinborough, a local festival held annually in November. Set in and around nine vineyards, festival-goers will have the chance to sample over seventy different wines, accompanied by fine food and live music. A free shuttle bus makes continuous circuits to the participating venues so leave the car behind and make the most of the day. And don’t forget to round off your trip with a visit to Martinborough Wine Merchants on Kitchener Street where you can stock up with wine to take home.
Get a taste of the past in Greytown
Nearby Greytown, just a fifteen minute drive from Martinborough, is home to the Cobblestones Village Museum. Situated on the site of the Cobb & Co stables which provided transport to Wellington in the 19th Century, the museum consists of several heritage buildings. You can wander around the Hastwell Stables, the Donald Woolshed, the first church and the first hospital. It’s also home to a collection of vintage farm machinery and horse-drawn vehicles. When you’re ready to come back to the 21st Century, explore New Zealand’s most complete street of wooden buildings. Dating from the Victorian era, this planned town has many one-off designer boutiques selling everything from antiques to homeware.
Get out into the great outdoors
Whether you explore the shores of Lake Wairarapa or visit the region’s wild coast, this region has much to satisfy the outdoor enthusiast. Must-sees include the Putangirua Pinnacles, rocks eroded over thousands of years into spiky outcrops known as hoodoos – you may have seen them at Bryce Canyon in the USA. Also make sure you walk around the lighthouse and see the seal colony at Cape Palliser. If nothing else, you have to burn off some of the calories all that fine wining and dining has piled on!