The Martinborough

The Martinborough Hotel – Buy 

When John Martin was born at Moneymore, County Londonderry, Ireland, in November 1822, I wonder if it occurred to him that he would end up having a town named after him? John Martin first came to New Zealand on the ship the Lady Nugent in 1841 at the age of 19. After spending most of his years in the North Island (along with a few sea voyagers), he eventually purchased 33,346-acres of land in the Wairarapa for a reported £85,000 in 1879. Martin then split the run into 334 small farms and the township of Waihenga was subdivided into 593 sections and renamed Martinborough.


Martinborough Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

The next day I awoke feeling cold. Throughout the night the surrounding hills of the Wairarapa had been covered with a dusting of snow. I’d spent the previous evening enjoying the hospitality of the local hotel, discussing the benefits of wearing a Peak Blinder hat and the virtues of the late, great All Black Sir Brian Lochore. This then led to a much deeper discussion on if it’s still possible to make the All Blacks by playing for Wairarapa Bush without playing Super Rugby. We all agreed it wasn’t. 

Yesterday, leaving Cape Palliser the weather had turned nasty pretty quickly and so I’d decided to leave having a stroll around the town of Martinborough till the next day. Now, in the brightness of a new morning with the odd hail storm passing overhead, I went for a look around. 

The town very much had a ‘summer vibe’ to it. The houses all had either contemporary designs or were upgraded Villa’s with wrap-around decks to provide shade from the summer sun. There were swimming pools, vineyards and olive groves aplenty. All of which suggested that in summer if you like complicated and lavish food platters with expensive wine then this was the place to be. I came to suspect that Martinborough was a place that shutdown over winter and was just now coming out of its hibernation. 

Walking in the hail I passed the now familiar hotel and passed the Old Post Office which had been converted to a Boutique shop that among other things, claimed to have Inspiring Sophistication. Not being confident about what inspiring sophistication was, I went in. It took all of about 15 seconds to decide that if what was in front of me was inspiring sophistication then clearly it was something I was lacking. What’s more, since it seemed to involve floral designs, gourmet gift presentations and stuff made with lace, it wasn’t something I’d be purchasing in this lifetime, and dare I say it, the next!

Over the next hour I wandered around the village square and the surrounding shops while rain, hail and snow showers passed by. As I was preparing to leave, I spotted two things that caught my interest. The first of which was a sign at the Wine Merchants. I stood for a moment, studying the sign to make sure I understood it properly. It appeared that you could buy wine and also hire bikes. Now, I don’t want to cause alarm, but doesn’t that seem a tad dangerous to anyone else? Secondly, I discovered that the town of Carterton was nearby. Thus it was that I made up my mind to make Carterton my next stop, after Masterton.