Blackwell & Sons proprietor Adam Blackwell shares his insider tips for Greytown. As told to Juliette Sivertsen.
What sets Greytown apart from other places is its incredible blend of owner-operated small stores. It's the opposite of a mall. Everything is unique. Lots of one-of-a-kind imports blended with locally made items. And because these beautiful small stores are in wonderful Victorian buildings, it's actually a relaxing shopping experience, not a fast-paced shopping stress-fest. It feels like old-school New Zealand meets modern fashion and designer shopping.
Start at Cobblestones Museum and stroll both sides of Main St and read the history of Greytown's incredible Victorian buildings on the plaques on each historic structure. Pick up a guide from Heritage Greytown in advance. Cycle the Greytown Rail Trail through flat farmland to the station, then ride the country lanes back to the village. The original trail had small-gauge tracks and a converted Model T truck on railway wheels ferried people from the train station at Woodside to town. Visit Blackwell and Sons , exclusive sellers of handmade British Pashley bicycles in New Zealand. You can even book a private shopping experience for up to six people in a group and be served wine and snacks while you listen to your favourite music and browse the beautiful bicycles.
Greytown has its own climate zone in Wairarapa. Rain and wind can be hammering the surrounding towns, sometimes just 5km away but Greytown's unique elevation and positioning relative to the protecting Tararua mountain range means it can be sunny and calm in the middle of the storm. That's why the deck of the White Swan hotel is a destination for a late-afternoon beverage in any season.
There is a secret nature walkway that begins at the end of Udy St and loops around for about 4km. Ittakes you through pristine farmland, alongside the river and past historic cottages and lodges.
The cutest little shop on the planet exists in Greytown: Imperial Productions in McMaster St sells traditional style toy soldiers, hand-cast and hand-painted. They are collectors' items made to order for enthusiasts all over the world.
If you're old enough to remember New Zealand in the 1970s or before, you'll have some fondness for a time when shopkeepers came out to genuinely help you find what you were looking for, not try to sell you stuff you didn't need - and if you popped into a shop for a browse, you'd probably meet the owner at some point.
It was also a time when the day's pace was set by you and if you wanted to take your time over a cup of tea and a sandwich or a slice of ginger crunch, you could do that. You didn't pay for parking and you'd probably bump into someone you knew for an extended chat, as soon as you took a stroll down the street. That's the Greytown vibe that my wife Millie and I fell in love with in 2013 and the one we can't wait to come home to any time we travel away.