Sampling New Zealand’s Good Life in Greytown (By Julie Given)

Located only an hour from Wellington, the historic town of Greytown is best known for its collection of beautifully restored Victorian buildings and boutique shops, one of the most complete collections in the entire country. The main street lined with trees and impressive examples of colonial architecture is also home to a wide selection of cafes and restaurants. For those in the mood to shop, the quirky local stores and designer boutiques feature everything from jewellery to gourmet chocolates and antiques. The area once known for its orchards is even the home of the renowned Gala apple that was developed right here in Greytown. It is filled with beautiful quiet country accommodations.

Today Greytown offers a little bit of something for everyone. It is a cyclist’s haven and a food lover’s paradise with a wide array of fresh local ingredients and delicious wines to pair with all of them. The collection of shops and cafes makes for a pleasant day of strolling around in what many describe as the prettiest town on the North Island. It’s a popular weekend for those wanting to escape Wellington while others choose to retire here.  History and architecture enthusiasts will have a wet appetite to pick up a heritage map and enjoy the town’s historic walk.

Getting Out & About
Greytown isn’t just a popular vacation for locals from Wellington, it’s also a popular destination for foreigners seeking a relaxing experience in the New Zealand countryside. There are many ways to enjoy this lovely town from cycling through the neighbouring vineyards to strolling around the Main Street. One of the most popular places to set up base for the night is the Westwood Country House, just a short stroll away from the shops and cafes. Guests can enjoy beautifully landscaped gardens, mature trees, and a stunning mountain vista. The location enables you to immerse yourself in the serene setting and experience the countryside as its best without the need for a vehicle. There are plenty of tours in Greytown that can be accomplished by foot or bicycle. Visitors are advised to research the places to explore and the various tours available before setting forth on a day of exploration. There are plenty of maps, guides, and information available from Greytown’s tourist information centre.

As you may choose to leave the vehicle behind, it would also be wise to check the weather forecast before you leave so that you can arrange your itinerary accordingly. Foreigners should also seek out competitive exchange rates before letting loose in the town’s diverse array of shops and restaurants. Currency exchange rates can either make your trip a bargain or a costly nightmare. Regardless of the strength of your local currency, you must ensure that you are getting the best rate possible when withdrawing cash or making a purchase. The internet is an excellent place to begin your research and online rates do tend to be better than those offered by local currency dealers. Just ensure that you leave sufficient time for your currency to be delivered. Be sure to research your debit and credit card fees as these can vary. Most importantly, don’t be lazy! Skipping research on currency exchange can prove to be a costly mistake particularly when there are several tools available at your fingertips.

Here are some of Greytown’s highlights that visitors can look forward to:

For Foodies
Greytown is well known for its artisan culinary craftspeople that produce incredible wines, olive oils, fruit, chocolate, and jams.

  • Main Street Deli is home to a delicious assortment of New Zealand olive oils. Many of the varieties are infused with lime, mandarin, and lemon.
  • Lime Chili, Pink Peppercorn, Sea Salt, and Smoked Paprika are just some of the artisan chocolates to be enjoyed at Schoc.  The rich flavour is produced using chocolate from Papua New Guinea, Grenada, Ghana, and Ecuador.
  • Greytown is famous for its Lighthouse Gin that is distilled with unique ingredients including juniper berries, licorice, cardamom, lemon, and kawa kawa leaves among other local delights.
  • One of the best places to enjoy the fresh local ingredients of the area is at Bar Salute which offers Middle Eastern and Mediterranean inspired tapas paired with local wines.
  • If you’d like to get a behind the scenes look at Greytown’s foodie scene, book one of the Zest Food Tours offered by Susan McLeary.
    For Wine Lovers
    The Gladstone Valley offers a picturesque landscape filled with emerging vineyards. It is a delightful place to enjoy lunch to sample some of the delicious local cuisine. One unique way to experience this beautiful area bordered by the green Tararua Mountains is on bicycle cycling through the vineyards to sample delicious flavours at the fine local wineries.

  • Some of the popular estates to visit on the Wairarapa Wine Trail include Fairmont Estate, Johner Estate, Cottier Estate, and Mebus Estate.
  • March Hare Cycling operated by Gretchen Bunny provides maps and a simple route that takes you through wine tasting at five local vineyards.
  • Pay a visit to the Wee Red Barn to sample some delicious strawberry wine.

  • For Strolls Around Town
    The heritage trees that are nearly one hundred and fifty years old aren’t the only things to admire along Greytown’s Main Street. There are also a number of unique boutique shops, restaurants and cafes.

  • For a top notch cup of coffee accompanied by some fine pastry, pay a visit to the French Baker.
  • The Designer Clothing Gallery is the only one of its kind south of Hamilton featuring beautiful samples.
  • Pay a visit to Schoc for a sinful sugar boost enjoying some of the most unusual chocolate recipes.
  • Puzzlewood along Wood Street is a great place for families to enjoy a number of games and puzzles including extra-large board games and miniature mazes.  It’s also great for a picnic.

  • For History Enthusiasts
    Greytown’s rich history is documented well and heritage maps are available from the town’s tourist information centre for a self-guided walking tour.
  • Cobblestones Village Museum is a great place to step back into history featuring Wairarapa’s first church, a country school, a vintage printing works, and a settler’s cottage.
  • The Papwai Marae is rich in history and heritage serving as home to the Maori Parliament movement.
  • Soldiers Memorial Park on Kuratawhiti Street is a good place to enjoy a nice walk in the bush.

  • For Outdoor Adventurers
    The surrounding area is filled with scenic places to explore offering visitors plenty of day trip excursions from Greytown.

  • The Greytown Rail Trail follows along the old railway corridor up to Woodside station. It’s a popular place to go for a bike ride.
  • Cape Palliser is an incredible day trip regardless of the weather. The view from the lighthouse built in 1897 is well worth the hike up 258 steps. Be sure to look out for the fur seal colony before reaching the lighthouse.
  • If you’re craving a day at the beach, Wairarapa’s most spectacular beach is located at Castlepoint Beach featuring a giant limestone reef, lighthouse, and the infamous Castle Rock.

  • After exploring one of the prettiest towns on the North Island, it’s not hard to understand why locals and visitors simply adore the picturesque town of Greytown. It is the perfect relaxing retreat offering a wide range of activity and unique experiences for all. From wine tasting to shopping in designer boutiques, it would be hard to not enjoy a day spent here.

    Let Westwood Country House be your gateway to this beautiful area. 

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