Our next Wairarapa Jeep Adventure takes us to one of Wairarapa’s best-kept secrets. An hour east of Martinborough, past New Zealand’s first commercial wind-farm, along a fourbie’s dream gravel road you’ll find yourself at Tora. Best known for its profoundly scenic (and sometimes terrifying) coast and being a hunter-gatherers dream for diving, hunting and fishing. If you’re already familiar with Tora you’ll know all about the Tora Coastal Walk, one of New Zealand’s first private walks and first in the North Island. The 3-day walk takes you through the coastline, private hill-country farms, native bush and magnificent hilltop ridges. At the end of each day, walkers retire in unique, comfy and stylish accommodation and cottages. One of these special gems is luxury stay and purpose-built Stony Bay, our destination for this Wairarapa Jeep Adventure.
Before we hit the trail, some local shopping for our adventures. In the heart of the Martinborough village, you’ll find P&K Martinborough, a landmark family grocer since 1873. From everyday supplies, local produce, wines, gifts, clothing, stationery and books, P&K is your one-stop destination. There’s really nothing you can’t find, believe me! We pass-through and frequent Martinborough regularly and anytime we have forgotten something, needed something or didn’t think of something, we’ve found it here! The weather took a turn this trip, so we stocked up on some yummy treats and purchased some extra toys and books for the kids to help with indoor entertainment.
Isaac could spend hours in the Martinborough Wine Merchants, it’s a great store when you visit especially if your favourite vineyard is closed, it’s highly likely they will stock your favourite wine here. The team are incredibly knowledgeable and such great storytellers, we learn so much about wine growers and this wonderful wine region each visit. If you’re in Martinborough for some time I’d also suggest taking a look at their Martinborough Wine Walks where you’ll walk, talk and taste your way around an exclusive selection of Martinborough’s wine and beverage specialists. They also hire-out bikes which is one of the easiest ways of getting around the vineyards. Helmets, maps and local know-how are all part of the hire and since roads are mostly flat as long as you can ride a bike you are good to go! We hired bikes on a date-day last year and it is so much fun, highly recommend it. Here we bought wine from Cambridge Rd, some locally made cheese and spreads and lastly a bar of Strawberry Rose Milk (my fav) also locally made at Schoc Chocolates in Greytown.
Tora Coast has swiftly made it to my TOP recommendations of places to visit here in the Wairarapa! Put it on your NZ must-do list! A stunningly rugged coastline, flanked by rocks, wild and windswept! We were welcomed with the wide-open arms of the ocean and gale-force winds whipping the waves against the rocky banks, Tora certainly knows how to introduce herself. Luckily reception bars were non-existent, the Insta-impulse to gram was STRONG, hubby had to remind me several times ‘wait for the blog post‘, not easy team.
As we approached Stony Bay Lodge, one-by-one, our jaws hit the jeep-bottom. WOW! A sensory overload. The most picturesque property with premium views of Manurewa Point and the Pacific Ocean. I hear one of the boys say ‘is this paradise dad?‘, Isaac replies…’pretty close‘. I agree!
Architecturally designed to withstand the elements, Stony Bay certainly stands grand and just like all things big and tough, the inside is where you’ll find the all the good stuff…raw wood and rustic elements, neutral colours, cosy accents and modern furnishings…all in a serene and incredibly stylish space. To top it off the property is fitted with enormous glass stacker doors that open to an expansive deck that really allows you to enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Stony Bay Lodge treated us to a catered meal famously served for their Tora Coastal Walkers. When you go online and research Stony Bay Lodge and the Tora Coastal Walk you’re going to notice how much their catered meals are raved about! So much so they released a cookbook! Of course, we had to get one! They use locally sourced fresh produce wherever possible and ensure you experience a variety of delicious tastes the region has to offer. All dishes were also lovingly homemade and most importantly, de-LISH!
On the menu:
Wild venison fillets seasoned with fresh herbs and served with locally made pinot jelly.
Creamy potato gratin
Roasted kumara and shallots with a sweet & sour reduction
Fresh green salad to serve with balsamic vinaigrette
We had initially planned to do a small family trek and head up the hill behind the lodge to reach one of the much raved about views in the area. Unfortunately with the weather turning, we had to give the more outdoorsy adventures a miss this visit. Fortunately, the team have invited us back to do their 3-day-walk, we will back, watch this space, excited!
Still, there’s plenty to do when the weathers not on your side. There’s the opportunity to disconnect and unplug from the world and focus on those in your company. We made use of the board-games, played endless card games, danced, parked up with a glass of wine, read books and relaxed. I loved engaging as a family but I also really enjoyed looking up and seeing my boys enjoying their alone time. There is so much space at Stony Bay, the lodge comfortably sleeps up to 15 people in 4 well-appointed bedrooms and 2 modern bathrooms.
We took Alba out for a bit of 4×4 action. Unfortunately, due to the heavy rain, I couldn’t get much photography of the Jeep (heart pangs). We did manage to get some good stories so be sure to head over to my Instagram and check out the ‘Stony Bay’ highlight. A must-do while staying at Stony Bay is visiting the historic Opua Shipwreck, a coal-carrier that was sadly wrecked in heavy fog back in 1929, all onboard survived so not as eerie as it sounds. It’s a terrifyingly beautiful sight, make sure you are aware of tide-times so you don’t miss it!
Alba has some pretty aggressive mud-terrain tyres and boy do they sling mud! If you saw our video teaser for Stony Bay, you would have seen Isaac taking on some extra slippery rutted tracks. There was a small break in the rain so I jumped out to film the Jeep. A ball of mud about the size of a tennis ball flung straight up from the back tyre and flew just centimetres from my face, so close! I actually really enjoy being in the Jeep in rougher weather, our specific model of car has a reputation for its rugged durability, makes for an epic pulse-raising ride in these conditions.
Just as we signed off the guest-book and packed up to leave the sun came out to bid-us goodbye. We explored a little longer along the coastline and also checked out some of the council camping areas we will head back to when the weather warms-up.
Now to our next-stop just a few kilometres away! Think native bush walks with 360-degree rural views rolling out to the sea in the distance. Try to imagine feeling like you are literally hidden away from the world and visualise a fun-filled storybook adventure. This, and then some, is Long Spur Eco Cottage.
This a non-profit project. Partners involved are gifting their name, time and services to help encourage kiwi travel and supporting local. Support local and food purchases are at our personal expense.
See you, love you, BYE!