Martinborough (Māori: Wharekaka) is a town in the South Wairarapa District, in the Wellington region of New Zealand. It is 65 kilometres east of Wellington and 35 kilometres south-west of Masterton. The town has a resident population of 1,600 (June 2016).
John Martin is regarded as the town’s founder and set out the first streets in the pattern of the Union Flag in the 19th century. Many of the town’s streets are named after foreign cities visited by Martin. Before Martinborough was established the southern part of the region was known as Waihenga, a point that seems to be lost at times in the history of the district. A feature is the colonial architecture, one example of which is the historic Martinborough Hotel, built in 1882.
Martinborough has a large number of vineyards producing wines, notably Pinot noir. Martinborough has a warm micro-climate, with hills to the east and west. Almost all the vineyards are in thin ribbons around the northern and eastern sides of the town, and on the Dry River to the south. All follow dry riverbeds, which provide appropriate soils for viticulture. Notable wineries include Schubert Wines, Te Kairanga, Tirohana Estate, Palliser Estate Wines, Dry River, Martinborough Vineyard, Murdoch James, Ata Rangi, Craggy Range Murdoch James, Ata Rangi, and Escarpment. During November, the region’s wines are celebrated in the Toast Martinborough wine festival. This event temporarily enlarges the population by 10,000.
Other industries around Martinborough focus on traditional beef and sheep farming; growing olives, lavender and nuts; and fishing at the coast settlements of Ngawi and Cape Palliser. Tourism is an important industry for the town, and the information centre is a good source of advice about accommodation, activities, wineries and where to eat.
There are numerous options for accommodation, from casual B&Bs to a five-star hotel. A small number of wineries and specialist tour operators offer vineyard tours, while there are many dining opportunities at wineries, or at the cafés and restaurants dotted around the attractive village square. A vibrant shopping precinct exists with boutique shops. It is also home to the Martinborough Brewery.
The town is home to the South Wairarapa District Council.