A feast for the senses

Photography Joanna Walden

The Tora Coastal Walk is one of those tantalising private walking experiences that is waved like a carrot in front of you for years until you can actually get a booking.

Private rural accommodation, daily luggage transportation, delectable gourmet home-cooked meals from locally sourced ingredients and wondrous countryside of rolling farmland hills, rocky outposts, stunning aerial views and wild seas. I promise you, it is worth the wait.

This track only allows 14 people at a time, ensuring it is never crowded and one can definitely bathe in the peace that a walk such as this offers.

Cancellations do come up regularly each season, so when Covid hit and international visitors were placed on hold, a raft of bookings opened up, which I pounced on immediately.

I’ve only ever heard raving reviews about the Tora and now I know why – it’s definitely the baking! Daily homemade treats are bountiful and helped sustain each day’s walking through wonderfully varied landscapes.

The food in general is outstanding. I had to rein in the daily desserts and baking so as not to go home heavier than I arrived.

However, it was all good fuel for the daily walking quota: Day 1 Whakapata Cottage to Stony Bay Lodge is 15.5kms, Stony Bay Lodge to The Shearers Quarters on Day 2 is an easier 6-11kms (depending on the detours) and Day 3 The Shearers Quarters to Whakapata Cottage is 11-13kms.

The Tora Coastal Walk was started in 1995 by Jane Elworthy and is now operated by three local families – the Elworthys, the Greenwoods, and the McNeils.

We were hosted by the lovely Kiri, wife of James (Jane’s son), and the source of the delightfully dangerous baking.

After 26 years, everything about this walk, from the organisation to the accommodation, catering, safety and guidance is finessed perfectly.

My experience included the wildcard of gale-force winds, which only added more drama to the experience.

I highly recommend you persevere with a booking. This is a walk that absolutely satisfies all the senses and the soul.

What you need to know

The Tora Coastal Walk is 40 minutes’ drive from Martinborough, Wairarapa. It involves:

A 3-day private walk, catering and accommodation included. $595 per person; $495 for children 12 and under.

35-40 km, spread over three days.

Available seasonally from October through April. 

Hot tip: If it is booked out, apply for the waitlist. Cancellations come up each season!

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