Martinborough Stories and Tips

Food, wine and song

Toast Martinborough is an annual wine festival which takes place in the small wine town of Martinborough at the bottom of the North Island of New Zealand. IT is approximately one hours drive out of Wellington or you can get there by taking a scenic train ride from Wellington then getting a coach to the location.

What is it?
Well as the name suggests Toast Martinborough is a celebration of wine, food and live music which takes place in November each year. Think - a good old fashioned pub crawl with great wines instead of beers, amazing gastro cuisine instead of kebabs and a wide range of music.

You have to purchase tickets in advance - and be advised get them early as the event is always sold out despite their being 10000 tickets on sale. Your ticket buys you a glass which you get to keep - this is given to you on a clever string so you can wear it around your neck! (Yes really - all becomes clear later on!) You also get a programme which tells you what is going on and where it is. You are also entitled to make use of the free shuttle buses which take you around to the various vineyards to eat, drink and be merry!

Is there a catch?
Yes - unfortunately you have to purchase "festival francs" from the main town square when you are at the festival. Each of the vineyards and producers charge you for tastings (although this is normally less than you would pay on a normal day). You will be charged in francs and these are non refundable so think carefully about how much you want to spend. You can also buy take home wine with them so that is a great solution if you buy too many by mistake.

I would advise that you make a rough plan of the day deciding on your route and perhaps basing it on which band you would like to see. Each performance takes place in a scenic vineyard so expect good music in some beautiful surroundings.

There is food on sale for every taste from Mori Hangi to Italian, to fresh NZ fish. Dont miss the Hokey Pokey (honeycomb) ice cream.

Dont whatever you do try to make it around each venue - there are too many and you wont get to enjoy the food, wine or music if you do. Make a list of your top picks and then see how the mood takes you.

Any advice for festival goers?
Take your mobile phone incase you lose your friends - easier done than you think.
Take a water bottle too - you end up drinking a lot of wine so make sure that you keep filling up your water bottle. It is a long day from 10 - 18 (8 hours of drinking can get messy)
Book early if you are going accommodation and public transport tend to sell out before the tickets to the festival even go on sale (yes really). So make sure that you have somewhere to stay (or a teetotal friend).

Have fun - this is a great event that I cant recommend enough!

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