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The Wairarapa has a growing range of cycle routes taking in the region’s expansive and beautiful rural landscapes and rugged coastlines. But for those who enjoy cruising and tasting premium wine, then cycling the vines around the pretty township of Martinborough is a must-do.

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Take a leisurely cruise around the vine village of Martinborough and pass boutique vineyards and olive groves. Credit: Green Jersey Explorer Tours.

Here, the roads are wide and flat and lined either side with vineyards, olive groves or farms while in between the parcels of land are colonial cottages or grand homesteads that are a nod to the town’s rural heritage.

Martinborough is a one hour’s drive or train ride from Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand and has long been a popular weekend destination for Wellingtonians in search of a sophisticated rural getaway.

Whilst still a service town for the south Wairarapa, Martinborough has transformed itself into a premium wine growing region thanks to its mineral-laden soils and unique climate that nurture a wide range of award-winning varietals including rose, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling and gewürztraminer. However pinot noir is the variety which the town has become synonymous with.

Martinborough’s 25 plus boutique wineries are located within cycling or walking distance of the town square, which was designed by the town’s founder John Martin in the shape of a Union Jack. And because many vineyards produce handcrafted wines, it means visitors have a good chance of meeting the wine-maker face to face and hearing their story first hand.

Hiring a bike is easy in Martinborough. There are several places hiring single speed vineyard cruisers, mountain-bikes, tuk-tuks, trikes, tandems and even a 4-6 seat, brightly covered quadri-cycle while wine maps are available from the Martinborough i-SITE Visitor Information Centre at 18 Kitchener Street.

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Poppies: Several places hire bikes in Martinborough including single speed vineyard cruisers, mountain-bikes, tuk-tuks, trikes, tandems and even a 4-6 seat, brightly covered quadri-cycle.

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There’s lots of fun ways to explore the village of Martinborough in south Wairarapa.

Nearby are boutique stores and restaurants and cafes serving up seasonal menus while quality accommodation is easy to find thanks to the friendly staff at the i-SITE.

Cycling the vines is a memorable experience. Why not coincide your visit to Martinborough with one of the town’s popular events:

1. Toast Martinborough

The champagne corks will be popping in Martinborough this November when Toast Martinborough celebrates its 25th Anniversary. The one-day festival, being held on November 20th 2016 and widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s most loved wine and food festivals, will see nine of the village’s wineries partner with nine premium restaurants to create a distinctive day out for lovers of great food, wine and music.

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Toast Martinborough is one of New Zealand’s premier wine and food festivals. This November it will mark its 25th Anniversary. Credit: Mike Heydon/JET Productions.

“Back in 1992 when Toast began, the newest tipple was Nouveau Rouge and asparagus rolls and seafood vol-au-vents were on the menu,” says the Festival’s general manager Anna Nielson. “This year we are polishing the silver and ensuring we create a sophisticated experience for all ticket holders.”

2. UB40 playing at Luna Estate

Original band members Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue will re-play their enormously successful Red Red Wine Vineyard Tour at Luna Esate on January 2nd 2017. Listen to classic UB40 hits such as Cherry Oh Baby, Kingston Town, (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You and Rat in Mi Kitchen in a gorgeous vineyard setting.

3. The New Zealand Cycle Classic

This five-stage elite international men’s road cycling race is the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) sanctioned stage race to be held in New Zealand in 2017.  Staged entirely in the Wairarapa from January 22nd – 26th, it will feature routes that showcase incredible scenery including stages three and four which finish in the Martinborough Square.

4. The Martinborough Fairs

Held annually on the first Saturday of February and March, this fantastic summer market sees hundreds of stalls radiating out from the Martinborough Town Square. New Zealand made goods, arts and fresh food and produce are all available.

5. Round the Vines

Held each March this 10km or 21km walking or running event sees entrants pass through quiet country roads and otherwise inaccessible vineyards. Themed drink stations throughout the event feature live music as well as samples of local wines for those who have a more relaxed approach to the day! This is a fundraiser for Martinborough School.

6. Jazz in Martinborough

Held each spring, this three-day festival attracts jazz musicians from all over New Zealand and sees the village come alive  Free gigs are played in the town’s cafes and restaurants while tickets events are performed daily.

7. Martinborough Charity Fun Ride

This fun road cycling event held each spring offers riders three distances of  48km, 67km and 115km taking in rural scenery, and passed vineyards and olive groves. Enjoy the best of local hospitality afterwards.

How to get there:

Martinborough is located at the lower right-hand corner of New Zealandʼs North Island. It is only an hour’s drive or train ride north-east of Wellington, which has daily domestic and international flights, and lies at the heart of the Classic NZ Wine Trail, a self-drive experience along SH2. There is a wide variety of accommodation nearby including luxury lodge Wharekauhau and 5 star hotels to motels and charming cottages. Martinborough is a short drive to the Wairarapa’s other townships of Featherston, Greytown, Carterton and Masterton. For more information visit www.wairarapanz.com.

Related links:

Hiking the magnificent Hollyford Track in New Zealand

A memorable trek on the Tora Coastal Walk

Discovering the spectacular coastal settlement of Castlepoint

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