Air New Zealand :lies
from London Heathrow to Wellington from about Â£800 return in August and from Heathrow to Napier from about Â£870 (both via Auckland). British Airways <0870 850 9850; www.ba.com) flies from Heathrow to Wellington via Sydney or Melbourne from about Â£880 return. Martinborough is a 90-minute drive from Wellington, across the breathtaking - and occasionally hazardous - Rimutaka range. Bus and train services are limited, so hiring a car is recommended.
Where to stay
Thanks to a regular influx of weekenders from Wellington, Martinborough is blessed with a wide range of high-quality accommodation. But visitors should book ahead: rooms are in high demand all year round. The best is The Martinborough Hotel (00 64 6 306 9350; www.martinborough-hotel.co.nz), an imposing, colonial building in the centre of town. Ask for a verandah room with a claw-foot bath (such as the Martin Room or the Riddiford Room). As well as a lively bar, the hotel has an a la carte restaurant. Doubles from NZ$260 (about Â£90); Martin and Riddiford rooms from about Â£100.
Next door is the more modest Petit Hotel (00 64 6 306 8086; www.petithotel.co.nz), which offers tastefully decorated rooms, modern bathrooms and complimentary sherry. Doubles from about Â£80.
Some wineries have holiday villas to let: Margrain Vineyard (00 64 6 306 9292; www.
margrainvineyard.co.nz), for example, has villas from about Â£55 per night A more traditional option is to rent an old cottage. One of the best is The Vicarage (00 64 21 036 0764), a tastefully decorated,
19th-century, two-bedroom house. Double occupancy NZ$150 (about Â£50) per night; about Â£15 per person thereafter. However, if you relish the idea of reliving Wairarapa's colonial heyday, head for Whangaimoana Garden Retreat
7736) on Cape Palliser Road, about 45km from Martinborough. There is a cottage on the property, but stay in the main house if possible. The Italianate villa is surrounded by magnificent gardens. It is a good base from which to visit the seal colony at Cape Palliser. Double occupancy about Â£45 per night, including breakfast and afternoon tea.