New tour of Greytown offers boutique shops and locally-produced culinary delights
Why wing your way to Europe or America to experience top class shopping and gourmet cuisine, when you can just pop over to Greytown?
In the past 15 years the Wairarapa town has gone from a little village that you could blink and miss to a desirable location for discerning shoppers and bon vivants.
Tourists spent an extra $10 million in Wairarapa in 2016, an increase of 18 per cent on 2015 with overseas visitors accounting for over a third of that spending.
Retail sales in Wairarapa, measured by Marketview, expanded by 14 per cent compared with 3 per cent in the Wellington region as a whole.
A new day tour aims to give people the full south Wairarapa experience in a tidy yet memorable package.
The Country Village Heaven Greytown Tour offers return train transfers from Wellington, boutique shopping in Greytown, a specially designed two-course lunch showcasing local produce and wine, wine tasting in Martinborough and a visit to a Featherston-based artisan cheese delicatessen.
Tour operator and guide Graeme Ransom, formerly of Melbourne and Waiheke Island, recently moved to Wairarapa with the aim of replicating a successful tour business he ran on Waiheke that targeted the Auckland market.
Ransom believes Greytown is to Wellington what Waiheke is to Auckland, an accessible and attractive destination that gives people a chance to get away from their daily grind with out busting the bank or travelling too far.
"When I moved here I had an idea I would start a wine tour so I went to see the people at Destination Wairarapa. They told me to forget the wine tour and start a tour of Greytown and south Wairarapa.
"We are giving people a chance to have a great day out without having to worry about driving over the Rimutaka [Hills] and back which takes the chore out of what should be a leisurely experience.
"Top class shopping with a map that points out the town's highlights, a specially designed meal by a well known chef, followed by wine and cheese tasting, and then dropped off at the train, you can't go wrong really."
Greytown, Martinborough and Featherston have all had steady transformations, thanks in a large part to entrepreneurs willing to go out on a limb, but also to the growth of tourism as domestic and international visitors have flocked to Wairarapa over the last few years.