Event organiser Paula Bevege of Paula Bevege Events is one of the movers and shakers within the region making this happen. She entered into a partnership with the Wairarapa Racing Club last year to completely renovate the old tea kiosk, built in 1923, that’s nestled in the heart of Tauherenikau Racecourse.
‘I fell in love with the space on the spot,’ says Bevege.
‘It had the most amazing rustic character with charming old features like beautiful hand poured concrete and surrounded by heritage trees.’
The venue has been named Rose & Smith in honour of the original builders, and aims to provide corporates with an exciting new venue close to Wellington city.
‘This is a very special place that can seat up to 200 people. We’ve teamed up with top chef Dale Keith, who has 30 years’ experience most notably with Vista Café, The White Swan and as creator of the Mt Victoria and Thorndon Chipperies,’ says Bevege.
‘Dale has designed special menus with produce sourced locally where possible while Wairarapa made gin and wines also feature.
Another example of Wairarapa upping its ante is Conference on the Square, a brand new concept initiated by the Martinborough Hotel after they identified a gap in the market.
The heritage boutique hotel was built in 1882 overlooking the town square and has 20 rooms, with ample opportunity for larger groups to stay elsewhere.
‘Our strong partnerships with nearby The Station House, Martinborough Lodge, Bliss and Pinot Villas make sure we can accommodate everyone and most importantly, ensures the group has a seamless and memorable experience,’ says spokesperson Angela Scott.
She explains that this concept also embraces village living in Martinborough, which is part of the charm of the destination.
‘This means delegates can be based at the Martinborough Hotel, with its two meeting rooms, breakout spaces, popular garden bar and two restaurants, while those staying off-site only have to walk two minutes through the village to get to their accommodation,’ says Scott.
Some of the new experiences in the region include Palliser Ridge Farm Tours, where delegates can see stock shifts with Palliser Ridge’s work dogs, check out the coastal views and the bee hives, taste honey, see sheep being shorn and more.
For more adventure-seeking groups, delegates can also hire electric assist bikes with Green Jersey Explorer Tours to cruise around the region on. Itineraries include a Martinborough to Ngawi, tour where they can enjoy lunch at the Gladstone Inn before being picked up.
Another new activity for delegates is the Brewer & Vintner Experience at Tui Brewery, which is a wine, food and beer matching held on site in Tui Brewery’s conference room.
Hancock adds that the region is also seeing a lot of work being done to improve connectivity to the region, making it easier for business travellers to get in and out.
‘For example they can fly into Palmerston North, one of the country’s fastest growing regional airports with over 40 flights a day on Air NZ, Jetstar and OriginAir, travel the scenic route via Tui Brewery and Pukaha Mount Bruce into the Wairarapa and then fly out from Wellington airport.’