Business seems to be booming in this region of stunning coastlines, wide lush valleys and charming little towns, with far too many foodie finds for you to cram into just one day. Plan to spend at least a couple here, and graze your way through some brilliant examples of pure
New Zealand flavour with a wickedly delicious Wairarapa twist.

It is true that I would travel a helluva long way for a great grilled cheese sandwich, and it is always with a sigh of relief that I reach the tail end of that drive through the Remutaka Pass and gun it (responsibly) to my all-time favourite New Zealand cheese shop. C’est Cheese Artisan Cheese & Deli now includes a dine-in ‘cheese bar’, where the grilled cheese is a bloody beauty and the blue cheese and cheddar scones are designed for the most serious cheesy-scone fanatic. Take a cheese flight and taste your way through Paul Broughton’s top picks from his outstanding speciality cheese selection, and ensure that you try his own house cheese from the Remutaka Pass Creamery range, made with organic milk from a local dairy Te Pare. Shop up big at this inspiring deli and cheese counter. Paul says it’s the land of cheese and honey, made from the stuff that only the sweetest cheese dreams are made of. Who am I to disabrie? 19 Fitzherbert St, Featherston, cestcheese.co.nz

Greytown is a great spot to base yourself for a night or two, and the much-loved White Swan Hotel is a perfect example of what warm rural hospitality is all about. Owned and run by seasoned hospo professionals – husband and wife team Rosie and Nick Rogers – there is so much to love about this iconic hotel. It would be rude not to grab a drink and a snack at The Gastro Pub, but make sure you leave room in your itinerary for a meal in The Captain’s Dining Room, where head chef Tom Monk showcases first-rate examples of the best ingredients the region has to offer. His beef tartare bruschetta with cured egg yolk, black garlic aioli and Olivo olive oil is exceptional. 109 Main St, Greytown, thewhiteswanhotel.co.nz

Newly opened Aperitif Wine Bar is gearing up to be the place to be in Greytown, with an intimate indoor space that opens out onto luscious green lawns and edible gardens, which create an unexpected oasis in the centre of the main street. Once word gets out, I reckon you’ll be needing to book your beanbag this summer. Paul and Elly Ansell are making all of the right moves, with their fresh views on bites, small plates and sweet treats that morph into a late-night menu from 8.30pm. With a fully stocked wine shop next door, you’ll be in for their pick of some of the best in the region. 101 Main St, Greytown, aperitif.co.nz

If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in the fascinating world of bees and get a handle on the true value of your jar of honey, then a trip to Greytown Honey to meet fifth-generation beekeepers Karly and Alex Polaschek needs to be on your list. Book ahead and taste their mānuka, wildflower, kāmahi, native and clover honey, and while you are there jump into a bee suit and let them show you what it takes to work up close and personal with a hive of bees. I guarantee you that once you conquer your fears you will leave this magical experience with eternal respect and value for both the hardworking bees and their dedicated and passionate beekeepers. You’ll even get to make your own jar of honey! Just don’t forget to take a thick pair of socks… Hit their fantastic shop on the way out. Who knew that you could make so many useful things from bee-related ingredients? 58 Moroa Rd, Tauherenikau, greytownhoney.co.nz

Schoc Chocolates is simply a must. It’s a destination in itself not only for the handmade, gourmet chocolates, but also for the self-exploration you will undoubtedly experience as you search through over 60 flavours – in the chocolate tablet range alone – for your perfect match. Owner and chocologist Murray Langham is an ex-chef, restaurateur and qualified culinary judge who is also a therapist, counsellor, facilitator and author. Through it all, he believes that the creations within his tiny chocolate-filled turn-of-the-century cottage will give you a much deeper understanding of your inner self. 177 Main St, Greytown, schoc.co.nz

I think it’s fair to say that Sarah Webster and Kirsten Berry at Finom Kitchen are pretty (umm) finomenal, and so is the offering at their café in Carterton. If you are looking for meat, you won’t find any on this menu – but you won’t miss it either. With Kirsten in charge of savouries and Sarah overseeing the sweets, their focus is on creating moments of connection through food, and this they do with such natural ability that you will be drawn into every delicious nook and cranny of their meticulously curated and welcoming space. The vibrant stuffed spinach roulade will catch your eye, the mushroom and cashew roll is sensational, and the exquisite cakes and coffee will give you more than good reason to linger. 52 High St North, Carterton, finom.co.nz

To pack in an extra-special treat, head north from Masterton to Ōpaki to meet winemakers Nicky and Brian Geary and their daughter Órlaith at Le Grá vineyard and winery. It’s a small, super-casual family-run operation, where Nicky makes the wine along with spectacular platters filled with so much homemade and locally sourced goodness that I would have made a complete day of it if I could. You might even do just that and book into their bed and breakfast. I swear you can taste the love in their small, boutique wine collection. Keep an eye out for the 2019 pinot rosé, with its toasty apple and quince flavours; the 2018 vintage was so popular it was almost over before it had a chance to begin. 42 Loopline RD 1, Masterton, legra.co.nz

Perhaps you’ve spent the day cycling among the vines in Martinborough and are on the lookout for a good dinner after all of that exertion. There are a couple of outstanding chefs producing food that you simply must not miss. One is Adam Newell at Union Square Bistro & Bar, with his comforting and slick take on a French-style bistro and country pub. The other is Hayden Gibbes at Mesita, who has a cool and inspired menu that changes weekly and delivers BIG on Latin American flavours. Here are two very different offerings from two very talented chefs. If I were you, I’d stay overnight at the beautiful old Martinborough Hotel and eat at both places. 10-12 Memorial Square, Martinborough, unionsquare.co.nz, martinboroughhotel.co.nz 14C Ohio St, Martinborough, mesita.net

Kelli travelled to the Wairarapa courtesy of 100% Pure New Zealand and wairarapanz.com For a constantly updated list of Wairarapa cellar doors and opening hours, go to wairarapanz.com.