"A picturesque place with heart and soul" Greytown by Kakapo2

Greytown Travel Guide: 5 reviews and 16 photos

I know, people are raving about Martinborough. But I just do not really like it. To me it is a boring beauty, and overpriced as well. I have been there on two occasions and have not even had coffee there. Instead we went to Greytown and have made this historic town my first choice place in the Wairarapa. And since I have discovered the delicacies of the French Baker on Main Street on my third visit it always will be. What a delight!

In Greytown you feel that it has a heart and soul – despite being more or less closed down after 8pm. During the day it is a busy place, with a few beautiful shops, delis, and cafés. It is a small town of about 2000 inhabitants, located 80 kilometres north-west of Wellington and 25 kilometres south-west of Masterton on SH 2. The proximity to Wellington makes it a more expensive place than you might think, as Wellingtonians flock to the region during the weekend and indulge in the wines and food of the Wairarapa.

Greytown was settled in 1854 and is named after Governor Sir George Grey who arranged the land to be bought from local Maori. It was New Zealand’s first planned inland town. But due to frequent floodings the main railway line bypassed Greytown and the plan to become the centre of the Wairarapa had to be abandoned. But you can still see that once a lot of money was invested to make Greytown a beauty. The Victorian main street, probably the most complete one in the entire country, is testimony to the great plans of the past. More modern buildings have been altered to a more Victorian look during the heritage rediscovery in the 1990s.

The Cobblestones Early Settlers Museum – which includes a church, a settler’s cottage, country school and a lot of antique machinery – is an historic village nearly in the middle of the town.

Greytown had a branch railway line to the Wairarapa line which ends in Masterton but it was abandoned in 1953. Greytown travellers are now serviced by the Woodside Railway Station on the Wairarapa Line – which is five kilometres from the township.

Our attempt to have a look at Papawai, an important marae and site of the first Maori parliament, failed quite miserably, as we followed the signs to the east of the township – but they led nowhere. Information papers say that the meeting house named Hikurangi dates back to 1888. The parliament building deteriorated and no-one looked after it until the carved figures were restored in the 1960s and the entire marae fully restored in the 1980s. The Maori name for Greytown is Te Hupenui, meaning: "the big snot", and this again means: "the fluid that comes out of your nose at a tangi” (tangi = funeral).

Things you can try in Greytown is chocolate tasting at Schoc, having fun at Puzzlewood where you find large board games, distorting mirrors, a mini-maze – bit like Puzzling World in Wanaka. As the Greytown area is well-known for its orchards, once even called the fruitbowl of the Wairarapa, you might buy some fresh fruit and vegetables from roadside stalls.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A lively place and picturesque place during daytime
  • Cons:More or less closed down in the evening
  • In a nutshell:The French Baker alone is worth a stop and detour
  • Last visit to Greytown: Nov 2010
  • Intro Updated Dec 7, 2010
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Kakapo2

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