Cruising Country

MartinB 1

I drive through the Wairarapa region every six weeks on my business trips but rarely get to explore much of the area, so when the opportunity came up to attend the Cruize Martinborough classic car event I thought it was a perfect opportunity for a weekend of cars and wine (not together obviously!).

I drove down from Auckland with a friend on the Friday and checked into an AirBnB property I had booked in Carterton, which is 14km’s from Masteron and only a 30 min drive to Martinborough.

It’s a small town of 5000 people most of whom I think got chinese takeaways from the same shop as us on the Friday night!

The Cruise Martinborough event attracts close to 400 cars to the region and over 4 days they do twilight drags, a drive in movie and a lunch time cruise down the coast. On Saturday all the cars park up on display around Memorial Square in the centre of Martinborough while their owners relax on the grass or visit one of the many pubs and cafes surrounding it. The ‘In Your Neighbourhood’ Café is known for having NZ’s best cheese scones and I’ll agree they are pretty good, I had two just to make sure!

A number of stalls had been set up in the main square selling carparts, ice-creams, retro items, and insurance products (which was me, along with Cheryl from Provincial Insurance Brokers). Once the cars had cleared out late afternoon a few of us reclined on armchairs outside the Cool Change bar for a well earned wine.

The following day my mate Lawrence and I headed for the wineries, but started with a coffee in Greytown, awarded the title of NZ’s most beautiful small town. It’s many cafes, knick-knack and boutique shops, often housed in well restored historic buildings, are definitely worth a brouse.

Our AirBnB host had recommended we visit Poppies winery, so we started our day there. Shane and Poppy have been here since 2012 and they only sell via their cellar door. He tends to the vines, she crafts the wine with everything being locally produced. They have a tasting room and offer seasonal platters which can be enjoyed in their garden dining area. It’s a beautifully set out venue, the owners are delightful and it was packed with happy people when we drove past later in the day. 

Next stop was Te Kairanga Wines one of the areas founding vineyards. It’s famous for Pinot Noir but as a white drinker I took a shining to their Riesling. The site has a pleasant garden setting surrounding a 130 year old cottage and they are open daily for tastings.

Time for lunch. I liked the look of Colombo Winegrowers as we drove past so we swung in for a look. Gorgeous setting, a casual restaurant among the vines, with beanbags on the lawn, it was the perfect stop for a platter of meat and cheeses washed down with a glass of their Rose.

To finish off our winery tour we went organic, to Vynfield Winery which is set in a historic homestead. We did the 4 wine sampler enjoyed under the shade of a tree in their garden.

There’s more to the area then vineyards, so we put down our wines glasses and went for an afternoon drive towards the coast (yes, we were sober!). 45mins later we arrived at the settlement of Ngawi which has more tractors per head of population that anywhere in the world. Mostly old rusty machines used for pulling boats in and out of the water, it’s worth stopping for a photo of them all lined up along the seaside. We also got an icecream!

From here it’s 6kms on a mostly dirt road which hugs the coastline until the lighthouse at Cape Palliser comes into view, this is the end of the road. Time to burn off those wine calories, there are 252 steps up to the lighthouse for a view out over Cook Strait. 

To finish off our adventure we headed for Lake Ferry, on the shores of Palliser Bay and ate Fish and Chips at the local pub. Another nice setting, picnic tables out in the sun overlooking the lake. As the sun started to dip behind the Rimutaka Ranges we made our way back to Carterton and I ironed my shirt read for the next mornings broker visits!

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