The area of Glenmark traditionally relied on a high proportion of cash cropping to complement fat-lamb production. The township of Waipara has its origins as a railway town, at the junction of the main trunk line and services heading west. Waipara led the way in rural irrigation schemes by opening its No. 1 Rural Reticulated Water Supply Scheme in 1986 - the first water harvesting scheme in New Zealand. By the turn of this century the area had become a significant wine production region, accommodating fourteen wineries.
Waipara is one of New Zealand’s most rapidly expanding wine areas, producing around 100,000 cases of award winning wines in an average year. The Waipara Wine Valley offers ideal conditions for growing premium quality grapes, the combination of hot summer temperatures, well drained soil and protection from the cool easterly wind makes for award winning wines. It is the fastest growing wine region in New Zealand with around 80 vineyards in the Waipara Wine Valley covers more than 1,200 hectares of plantings, including the extended Glasnevin area to the south. The north facing moderately sloping terrain provides an ideal sun trap for fruiting vines, with Pinot Noirs and Rieslings being regional specialities.
Offering daily wine tours, as well as personal excursions, the Waipara area features various attractions and accommodation options. The Glenmark railway recalls the era of rural train travel with a ride in vintage former NZR passenger carriages through scenic Weka Pass on the 13-kilometre-long railway from Waipara to Waikari, using vintage former steam and diesel locomotives.