It’s not unusual to find some of New Zealand’s specialised businesses tucked away in lovely country towns like Greytown (only 20 mins drive from Martinborough). The Retro Room owned by Julie and Merv Saunders, restore art deco furniture using the original high quality frames and re-upholstering them in beautiful, colourful fabrics:
Some of my generation recall how we thought these chairs were so terribly old-fashioned after we’d moved on to monochrome blacks and greys. I can remember actually taking beautiful chairs like these to the dump. What a fool! They’re all the rage now and I want them back!
Merv’s a very approachable bloke and we had a great conversation about how people have lost the eye for quality and everything has become so ‘cheap’ and disposable. Feast your eyes upon these Venetian mirrors – sure beats the heck out of the three-ducks-in-a-row:
Of course Greytown is not just about finding a unique piece of furniture but also about beautiful restored heritage buildings…
…and Marilyn Monroe. Yep, that girl sure gets around and what man would refuse a chance to pose for a photo. So after a lot of mucking around with Michael trying different posses and ignoring pedestrians around him, this is the truly amazing result:
Moving along nicely, the second interior-related business we visited was Country Traders.
If you’re looking for special antique furniture and fittings, you could spend a long time in this shop. Go on, check it out:
We bypassed a rather chaotic café with fabulous homemade cakes, in favour of a tidier café with a great street appearance. It was not a wise choice but you live and learn. I have a special affection for Greytown. To me it represents rural kinship, a slower pace and a kinder world. It’s definitely worth a visit.
If you’re expecting to be entertained in an Amusement Park way, then this tour is probably not for you. The Weta Workshop Tour consists of being guided through a number of work benches, past free-standing exhibits and examples of the computer technology used.
Apparently, even after months of work, many Weta creations never see the light of day and are eventually stored in a warehouse somewhere. All riveting stuff for lovers of design, Hobbit and LOTR films and those interested in the special effects in films like Avatar.
I was captivated by the behind-the-scenes anecdotes delivered in a fast patter by Emily, our tour guide and NO, this is NOT a photo of Emily but one of the trolls on exhibit and the only photo we were allowed to take before being ushered through the door of the actual Weta Workshop.
In my opinion, this small group tour was greatly enhanced by the vivacious Emily and would have been less ‘colourful’ without her engaging personality. She made us laugh and boy, could she tell a good story. The work that goes into one piece of sleeve steel chain for a costume took three months of weaving…by hand, if you please! You’ll notice the occasional designer walking by and they all seemed to have the haunted look of the sleep deprived - 24/7 dedication here folks. Computer technology is extremely sophisticated and and it was fascinating to see how the computer images evolved to create the final product.
This tour is extremely popular and we found it difficult to get a parking space, however with patient circling, you will find one eventually. I would definitely recommend the Weta Cave and Workshop Tour for travellers who appreciate the magic that can be achieved from those who dare to imagine without limits.
Within the Martinborough vineyard cluster there is a stylish winery and vineyard called “Poppies”, owned by Poppie and Shayne Hammond. Although not strictly a restaurant, Poppies provides vineyard lunch platters to enhance the enjoyment of their wines. I was starving by the time we arrived there and forgot to photograph their magnificent lunch platter. Forgot! So I won’t bother describing the stuffed cherry tomatoes, marinated aubergines, homegrown olives and succulent pork. Nor will I mention the weeping cheeses, pestos and hummus. The Poppies venue is also used for weddings and events – a lovely place which seems to attract beautiful people..here’s one of them:
Before we leave Poppies, mention must be made of the classical Italian interiors of the women’s restroom which has authentic antique fittings and the most gorgeous chandelier hanging in the corner:
For our first night in Martinborough we decided to check out the Circus Cinema located on a street running off the main square in Jellicoe Street. The Circus Cinema also has a licenced restaurant for casual dining including pizzas.
If you don’t mind the food being delivered at a snail’s pace, it’s a nice place to relax before or after a movie.
A few years ago we had a fantastic dining experience at the Martinborough Hotel which was, at the time, managed by the Peppers Group. We’re pleased to report that although the management has changed, the service and food has not. I know some chefs disapprove of their masterpieces being published by amateur photographers, but…this duck dish was so mouth-wateringly delish..:
The service was impressive. Our waitress welcomed us with a smile of genuine warmth and she was super efficient, as were the rest of the staff. And yes, on this occasion we were happy to tip.
There is another dining option we just didn’t have time to experience but we have heard good things about Tirohana Estate Vineyard which serves dinner in a beautiful villa. Bookings are essential. Ok, two days in Martinborough is not nearly enough but as my dear friend Elaine says, “little fish are sweet”. No matter for how long, it’s always a pleasure being a traveller.
One of life’s pleasures is biking through boutique vineyards under a blue summer sky in the heart of Martinborough. Being located a mere hour’s drive from Wellington, Martinborough provides an alternative base for travellers and the more relaxed lifestyle of a small town.
People usually bike around the vineyards in the afternoon when most of the vineyards will be open. But we’re early birds and the day’s going to be hot so off we go. The vines are at their most beautiful, dripping with plump grapes.
We’ve hired our bikes from March Hare (clever play on words there) located right beside the I-Site in the main street. Marty kits us up with bikes, helmets and his business card, just in case we get a flat tyre. Thoughtful guy, that Marty. First stop Alana Estate and their pinots are showstoppers! Back-to-back boutique vineyards folks and Michael’s in seventh heaven:
Every vineyard cellar door should have have someone like Paul to work in their tasting rooms. There are six of us in the tasting room at the Te Kairanga Vineyard Cellar Door. Paul’s time is being monopolised by a couple of elderly women wanting to discuss the sunflowers growing in the next paddock. The rest of us couldn’t give a toss about the damned sunflowers. Good old Paul, showing great tact and diplomacy, brings us back to the subject at hand, WINE!
Paul feels that people misunderstand wine and food matching, especially the young who view wine as a drink you guzzle until you fall flat on face – because it’s only then that you know you’ve had a really good time. Of course it’s easy for someone of my vintage to forget the level of sophistication it took to drink wine called ’Black Tower’ and ‘Blue Nun’. And who could forget ’Liebestraum’ presented in a plastic bladder and packaged in a nicely decorated cardboard box.
We’ve come a long way since then dear traveller…
Yep, but some of the simpler things in life should always remain the same:
So why do so many travellers to New Zealand view the timing as a secondary issue? Shouldn’t it be given greater priority in the planning process? Here’s some important seasonal information about New Zealand to help travellers make an informed decision on when best to visit this fabulous country!
North & South Island Weather:
The northern top of the North Island has subtropical weather during summer and while the South Island’s inland alpine areas can be as cold as -10°C (14°F) in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means milder temperatures than say the USA or Canada.
Temperatures in New Zealand tend to decrease the further you travel south. January through to March are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month.
Here’s what you really need to know….
Spring: (Sept – November):
Spring gets a little confused with what it’s supposed to be. Expect all types of weather including cold, frosty, clear days, to sunny and hot days. Jeans are good and layers work well on top, as they can be added or removed, although bring a warm jacket. This is a lovely time to see fresh new growth coming through, green paddocks and most importantly, cute little baby lambs!
Summer: (December – March)
A New Zealand Summer is moderately hot, with temperatures hovering around 20-30 degrees celsius. In most places you’ll be wearing shorts or a t-shirt during the day, adding a light jumper at night. This is the busiest travel season in New Zealand, (20 Dec – 10 Jan). Facilities are heavily booked over Christmas with family travellers and Kiwi kids enjoying their school holidays.
Autumn: (April - May):
Autumn temperatures are cooler than summer, but personally, I love this time of year! The weather is generally more settled and pretty darn fabulous! Suitable clothing includes light pants or shorts, and a t-shirt or long-sleeved top. It ‘s cooler at night so be prepared with a warm sweater. With calmer days and less rain, it can be a great time for all those adventurous activities you’ve planned.
Winter: (June- August):
Winter in New Zealand brings colder weather to much of the country. You’ll need warm clothing, especially if you’re heading into the mountain areas Unless you intend to go skiing, winter is not the perfect time to work on your tan…
…but you’ll still be able to do this…
…the scenery’s not going away anytime soon…
…some things stay the same…
…it just means that in winter, you’re a bit more limited but you can still have a fabulous adventure in New Zealand, no matter what the season.