For those of you new around the blog or my channels, Tora is a much-treasured spot for our whānau (family). For those a bit more familiar with our travels, and for those who have previously enjoyed our Tora expeditions, Greentops Farmhouse is another great spot to put on your Wairarapa accommodation list. We’ve travelled here with extended family to celebrate Matariki, the rise of the Matariki star cluster and the Māori New Year.
This charming coastal farmhouse is set in the heart of a working farm, two minutes from Te Awaiti Bay and part of the longest standing private walks in New Zealand (and widely regarded as the best), the Tora Coastal Walk. The picturesque property is surrounded by majestic hills, and plenty of indoor and outdoor spaces to enjoy. Greentops Farmhouse is an ideal venue for large groups of friends or family gatherings with the ability to sleep up to 18 guests.
Though we haven’t (yet) embarked on the Tora Coastal Walk ourselves, it is high on our Wairarapa bucket list. We have however been lucky enough to stay at some of the other properties that are part of the experience during their off-season. Check out our blog posts on the stunning architecturally designed Stony Bay and the rustic beauty that is Long Spur Eco Cottage.
Greentops Farmhouse has a wonderful history and you really feel that warmth staying here. Originally a simple abode to Return Servicemen who settled on their return in 1950 and lovingly kept to this present day. Possibly my favourite feature was the kitchen’s cathedral ceiling made with timber milled from the property, along with stunning stained glass. When the sunlight hit the dining area it created such a magical ambience for our meals.
Multiple living areas and verandahs gave our families plenty of space to connect and even enjoy a moment of solitude. Whether it be relaxing with a good read, enjoying a stroll around the gardens to playing board games, we all found a moment to soak up and delight in.
Matariki is a time to reflect and plan for the future. Greentops Farmhouse was an inspiring place to begin journaling my hopes, dreams and aspirations for the year ahead. Next Matariki, I will use these musings to measure how my year went. What I loved most about spending time with whānau over Matariki was watching the kids play and bond. There’s no internet or television at Greentops Farmhouse, so it’s a great break unplugging from the very wired world we live in. Additionally, no wifi means for us adults, that there is no need to resist the urge to check messages or texts. I feel travelling this way creates a better appreciation of one’s environment and a general sense of awe.
Each family brought their favourite Matariki storybooks and each evening we wound down with some storytelling and pūrākau (legends that preserve the cultural repositories of historical accounts of Māori throughout the generations). Nights spent at Greentops farmhouse were every bit as magical as the day.
Kai (food) and feasting are central elements in Matariki. During this special time of year for Māori we ‘kaitahi’. This means gathering with whānau (family) and loved ones to share meals together. Traditionally kai shared on Matariki was harvested from past seasons and kai Māori, which is food made up of kaiwhenua (food from the land) and kaimoana (food from the sea). Kaitahi can bring people together in a plethora of ways, cooking, eating and gathering kai together are all opportunities to connect and we made the most of every minute doing so.
Greentops Farmhouse is situated close to some excellent fishing and diving for those keen on a fresh catch. Isaac made his famous pāua fritters with herbs and zest from the gardens outside. So yummy! We also set up a banana split station after dinner, and the kids created some of the most creative and delicious desserts.
Something new we did this year was create our own ‘Hautapu’ ceremony. This is where you’re feeding the stars and the food you cook has a connection to each of the whetū (stars) of Matariki. You begin by cooking the kai (food), then go outside in the very early morning before the light breaks, where you can see the Matariki star cluster. Then you lift the lid off the pot and the steam feeds the stars. It was very special! We will continue this tradition with our families and generations to come. Each Matariki we take the time to dive into a better understanding of what Matariki meant to our ancestors and what it means to our whānau (family) today. I am excited to learn more alongside my family. Matariki has become my favourite time of year!
Tora is blessed with a mosaic of rugged and ravishing landscapes, as well as being known for its large New Zealand fur seal colonies and ancient Māori Pā sites. My husband likes to describe this coast as a Mecca for hunter-gatherers. The Titter’s, like us, are also a dedicated Jeep family, we spend a lot of time with this side of our whānau exploring the outdoors. We had absolutely glorious weather during our stay, perfect for a little off-road action and fun in the winter sun.
Mānawatia a Matariki!
Mā te wā! – Hope to see you back soon for another adventure.