Domestic Travel: Wairarapa

Golden autumn colours and crisp mornings light up the Wairarapa’s wide open landscape and big skies, welcoming unlocked travellers for some culinary adventures. Local Sue McLeary lists her favourites for anyone heading to this beautiful part of the country.
  • Moy Hall is Martinborough village’s newest winery lunch restaurant, owned by winemaker Phill and Carolyn McArthur and their families. The generous, ever-changing share-if-you-want-to plates menu is matched with wines from the vines right by the sunny deck.
  • Coney Wines is 10 minutes south of Martinborough. Lisa Coney makes the wine; her mother Margaret does the very tasty shared plates food and father Tim grows the grapes and with inimitable flair pours the wine for this weekends-only courtyard style restaurant.
  • Café Medici is in the heart of Martinborough village, where chef/owner Nick Rogers proudly serves its winning WOAP Holy Cow and Prawn Underbelly Burger. Medici is open for breakfast and lunch 7 days, dinner Friday and Saturday. café
  • Union Square Bistro at the iconic Martinborough Hotel is open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner 7 days under chef Adam Newell’s experienced hands, while Nicola Newell runs front of house. The “modern NZ bistro with French influences” menu is updated often.
  • Mesita Wine Bar in Martinborough is tiny and vibrant, offering small plates of Latin American-style food and an extensive wine and drinks menu. Sunny street-side seating and an interior courtyard. Walk-in only, Thurs-Mon, 4pm until late.
  • The Lake Ferry Hotel is a local classic, famous for its fish and chips and outstanding views over Palliser Bay to the Kaikoura Ranges. A 45-minute drive south from Martinborough or Featherston through green farmland, this will take visitors to the turnoff for frolicking seals, Ngawi fishing village, the Pinnacles and the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. Lunch and dinner 7 days.
  • The White Swan is Greytown’s prettiest Victorian building, moved in pieces over the Remutaka Hill and magnificently restored. It now offers luxury accommodation, restaurant, and bar, under the creative direction of new owner and chef Marc Soper (ex Wharekauhau Lodge). Marc’s focus is on the best Wairarapa produce available a stone’s throw away. Lunch and dinner 7 days.
  • Pinocchio Greytown has moved from Martinborough, taking over the former Salute space with inside and outside seating to become Pinocchio Restaurant and Bar. Head chef Paul Ansell’s menu is classically based on seasonal flavours and stylishly presented.  Lunches Wed-Thurs; lunch and dinner Fri- Sun.
  • The Screening Room in Kurupuni, Masterton, brings together modern cinema comfort and new-release movies with a wide range of internationally inspired small plate food (or just a pre-movie coffee and snack). Lunch and dinner 7 days.
  • San Sebastian occupies a striking blue art deco building in Masterton, with a great deck for sunny afternoons.  Only open a few months, San Sebastian has a relaxed style with imaginative tapas-style dishes, many cooked on a huge central grill. The menu is creatively divided between Sea, Earth and Pasture offerings. Tues-Sat, lunch and dinner.
  • The Clareville Bakery on SH2 between Carterton and Masterton is the award-winning brainchild of Michael and Rose Kloeg, including Best Rural Café twice in the NZ Café Awards. Guests can see the kitchen at work through large windows, producing hand-crafted breads, patisserie (try the divine Opera Cake) and lunches. Breakfast and lunch  Mon-Sat.
  • Balter Bar & Kitchen in Carterton specialises in tapas/shared plates food, craft beer and local wines while just down the road is the charming – if slightly chaotic – Café Mirabelle. Against expectations, the French Olivier is Maitre’d while his Kiwi wife Megan is Chef de Cuisine, creating divinely light pastries and delicious French-inspired lunch dishes.  Wed-Sun, lunch and BYO only

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