Wellington & Martinborough Holidays

Head to the bottom of New Zealand’s North Island for a top mixture of Wellington, wine and much more.

Picturesquely draped between the mountains and the sea, New Zealand’s cool, compact capital bursts at the seams with cultural offerings of every persuasion. You can lose yourself in a sleek museum whose hands-on displays embrace every aspect of the nation’s natural and human history, from earthquakes to epic Māori sea voyages. In the city’s ‘Wellywood’ district, you might find yourself face-to-face with an iconic creature from The Lord of the Rings on a tour of a widely acclaimed props and visual effects studio. Or you may prefer to spend hours checking out the vibrant coffee-house culture– this is the birthplace of the flat white, after all – or grazing your way through the world of flavours of its hotter-than-hot culinary scene.

A short hop to the east around Martinborough, it’s viticulture that’s the star of the show. In the course of less than 50 years, this ridiculously quaint overgrown village has found itself at the heart of a thriving wine region. Pedal or stroll between family-run wineries to sample prize-winning pinot noirs, wander among the vines and take a cellar tour that will make you an instant connoisseur. When it comes to eating out, there’s a surprising embarrassment of riches for such a small place, from vineyard cafés and food trucks to supremely stylish bistros in heritage buildings.

If you’d like to taste the attractions of Wellington & Martinborough, speak to our New Zealand experts about it today.

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Wellington & Martinborough Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Wellington & Martinborough

InterContinental Wellington

A stylish and contemporary hotel ideally located by Wellington Harbour.

QT Wellington

This quirky design-led hotel has sophisticated dining, chic bars and an excellent waterfront loca...

The Martinborough Hotel

A charming heritage hotel in the Martinborough wine region

Wharekauhau Country Estate, Wairarapa

A Luxury Lodge of New Zealand with an enviable location, excellent food and a range of activities...

Ohtel, Wellington

Get out and explore New Zealand’s captivating capital from this quirky harbourside base.

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Martinborough Wine Tour

Depart from Wellington and drive through the picturesque Hutt Valley and the Rimutaka Range to Martinborough for this full-day guided tour of the famous wine region. With a wide choice of wineries, there is a selection of award winning wines to sample, including the Pinot Noirs that the region is known for. Stop for lunch at Poppies winery and enjoy a superb platter of local delicacies matched with their fine wines. Continues on to a further 2 or 3 wineries or head to the lovingly restored colonial town of Greytown, where you can browse the main street taking in the craft and antique shops or stop for a coffee, before heading back over the hill to Wellington.

• Duration: full day
• Start time: 9.30am
• Departs daily
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Get to know Wellington & Martinborough and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.

Capital
TIME DIFFERENCE

GMT +12 (with New Zealand Daylight Time and New Zealand Standard Time applied, this largely equates to 11 hours ahead of the UK from early April to late September and 13 hours ahead from late September to late March)

CURRENCY

New Zealand dollar

FLYING TIME TO DESTINATION

25½ hours (not including stopover time)

RELIGION

New Zealand has no state religion but the majority of people are Christian

LANGUAGE

Māori and English

Where are Wellington & Martinborough?
New Zealand’s capital Wellington lies on the shores of a natural harbour – an inlet of the Cook Strait – at the south-westerly tip of the North Island, with the mountains of the Remutaka Range providing a panoramic backdrop. The small town of Martinborough (population 2,000) is 40 miles inland to the east. While most international airlines use Auckland as their main hub, Wellington has excellent connections to other parts of New Zealand, as well as Australia and Fiji. The city is, along with Martinborough, a stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail driving route, while regular ferry services whisk travellers to the South Island a mere 20 miles away. Wellington is also the southern terminus for The Northern Explorer, a train journey through the North Island’s most scenic areas.

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Capital city
Auckland might be three times its size, but Wellington has all the culture, natural beauty and confidence that you could hope for in a capital city. A sizeable chunk of its 500,000 inhabitants work in creative industries such as film-making, its innovative museums are anything but dusty, and it has a buzzing festival scene to match. Its breezy charm – it’s officially New Zealand’s windiest city – is down to several factors, not least the setting. Between reviving shots of coffee in one of the many cool cafés, you can take a kayak out into the bay, unwind on a peaceful suburban beach or catch a funicular railway into the hills to explore the botanic garden.

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Movie making
Make your way to the eastern suburb of Miramar, which has become such a centre of New Zealand’s film industry that it has been dubbed ‘Wellywood’. This is where you’ll find Wētā Workshop, the award-winning visual effects and props company behind a host of famous movies and TV series, including The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Book yourself on a behind-the-scenes guided tour and learn about the creative wizardry behind everything from costumes to magical creatures; the longer option includes a visit to the Thunderbirds set. Find more Lord of the Rings locations around Wellington and Martinborough – the Putangirua Pinnacles are probably the most striking.

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Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Thanks to its fresh, imaginative approach, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa – usually shortened to Te Papa – deserves a spot on any itinerary. Housed in a strikingly modern building, New Zealand’s national museum is very much the ‘container of treasures’ its name suggests. Its interactive exhibits and immersive experiences cover an impressive range of the country’s stories. The Gallipoli display, created in conjunction with Wētā Workshop, cleverly shines a spotlight on the lives of ordinary soldiers. Bush City takes you on an outdoor trail past thousands of native plant species, while other cutting-edge installations tackle anything from ocean-going Māori sailing boats to migrant tales.

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Drinking and dining
Wellington racks up more restaurants, cafés and bars per capita than New York City, so cuisine here should be savoured. This is a city which runs on coffee and has a soft spot for craft beer; when you start to feel peckish, you’ll find everything from independent places tucked away up stairways and down alleyways to seafood spots by the harbour. Visit Courtenay Place for fast food to fuel your sightseeing or sit-down Asian and Italian dinners. The colourful Cuba Street was named after an early settler ship to New Zealand (rather than the Caribbean country) but still offers an eclectic mix of internationally inspired snacks.

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Winelands
Blessed with a relatively dry climate, the wine-making area of Martinborough – part of the larger Wairarapa wine region – has come a long way in a short time. The first vines were planted on the slopes above its picturesque eponymous town only in the late 1970s; nowadays, its superb pinot noirs win awards around the globe. Many of its most-garlanded boutique wineries are within walking or cycling distance of the captivating main square, so you don’t have to worry about tasting and driving. If you’re pressed for time, you can take a full-day tour that includes vineyard walks, introductions to several makers and a relaxed lunch looking out over rows of grape-laden vines.

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Wellington & Martinborough Weather

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