Martinborough is a quirky little village with a majestic square at its heart. The Martinborough Hotel takes pride of place at the entrance to the square. Developer Edmund Buckeridge described it in 1882 as “the finest hostelries ever erected in any inland town in New Zealand”. Once a way station for prosperous travellers to and from the South Wairarapa’s huge isolated sheep stations – its grand facade has been a focal point for the town from the early days. In the early 1980s, wine pioneers discovered that Martinborough’s soil and microclimate were perfect for grape growing. The wine industry grew and the hotel was fully restored in 1996. Surrounding the hotels are historic buildings like the Settler’s Museum (designed by one of New Zealand’s foremost early architects, Natusch) and Pain and Kershaw’s General Store – which has continued with an unbroken family lineage since the 1880s.
Martinborough has made a name for itself as a centre of excellence for cuisine and wine. Visitors and locals alike find the romance of Martinborough endearing as well as invigorating. The hotels past, and its sense of history and place will charm you as soon as you arrive in the lobby – from the battered suitcases of a gentleman traveller in reception to the sloping floors and historical sketches of Wairarapa personalities adorning the walls. Today The Martinborough Hotel offers character, comfort and old style personal attention. As for the little town with the big name which attracts thousands to its fairs, wine and food festival and vibrant restaurant and café scene, Martinborough remains as quirky as ever.