Feast Marlborough and the Saint Clair Half Marathon coincide for one lively weekend


Saint Clair Vineyard Half with Thomas's - MarlboroughNZ.com

One weekend in autumn draws a huge crowd to Marlborough, but not for the vineyard rows turning spectacular shades of crimson, amber and gold against clear blue skies. It’s the chance to participate in a wildly popular event that delivers an intimate way to sightsee Marlborough’s vineyards: the Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon. Thomas’s joins the excitement again as an official sponsor of the event on May 13th for another sell-out year. There are lots of ways Thomas’s will be participating in the weekend events, starting with extended store hours to include Sunday following the race.

Icebreaker at Thomas's

The Saint Clair half-marathon has been drawing entrants throughout New Zealand for over ten years. This year, guests travelling to Marlborough will be treated to an added bonus, the launch of the newest foodie festival in the country, Feast Marlborough. The inaugural event takes place the same weekend as the half-marathon, celebrating Marlborough as a producer of fresh, local delicacies and world-class wines in a series of mini-events.

Feast Marlborough with Thomas's

Pork bao buns with Thomas's for Feast Marlborough's street party

Friday kicks off Feast Marlborough’s three day celebration with a street food fair right outside the store, where our own Thomas & Sons Café will join other local food producers and restaurants to show off the region’s best fare with amazing street food in downtown Blenheim (3pm–7pm). Renowned chef Martin Bosley is leading the charge and there will be incredible seafood, Asian pork-belly bao buns (that’s us!), Mexican and other delicious street food on offer. Turn up, enjoy some late-night shopping – Thomas’s will be open until 7pm – enjoy a great meal, and get your weekend off on the right foot. Saturday night’s Feast Marlborough offering gives the half-marathon participants a chance to celebrate their efforts with several venues hosting unique dining options, and finally Sunday closes with a collaborative brunch. What better way to celebrate the mum in your life (Sunday is Mother’s Day after all!).

If you need a bit of inspiration for what to wear on the big day, check out our range online and make us your first stop for insider knowledge on the best fashion, from competition time to kicking up your heels. Mons Royale and Icebreaker offer great options for Marlborough’s fluctuating temperatures that will see you through a cold morning start to a heated finish on race day. We also carry the latest from KowTow, Karen Walker, Ted Baker, Ketz-ke and more, for an instant uplift after you peel off running gear and join the celebrations.

See you on Friday night for the street food party, Saturday at the finish line, or come and see us in store on Sunday for a relaxed shop, coffee and brunch.

Best of luck to all the competitors, whether it’s your first time or your tenth. You’ve got this!

Thomas’s opening hours for the Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon & Feast Marlborough weekend


  • Shop: 9.00am – 7.00pm
  • Café: 8.00am – 7.00pm


  • Shop: 10.00am – 4.00pm
  • Café: 8.30am – 3.00pm


  • Shop: 10.00am – 3.00pm
  • Café: 8.30am – 2.00pm

Photograph of Marlborough vines: MarlboroughNZ.com


Love letters and magazines – a photo shoot with Lonely and Admire


Moody lighting, the sound of Billie Holliday’s velvety voice crooning down the hallway of a vintage theatre – that’s the ambience of our latest photo shoot with Admire magazine.

The photo shoot was a collaboration between Thomas’s stylist Ingrid Binsted-Pickering and photographer David James – setting the scene for Lonely lingerie. “Lonely is such a feminine, comfort, feel-good label. With beautiful cuts, romantic colours, the lace and straps – it’s something quite unique and special in comparison to your regular lingerie,” says Ingrid, who was inspired by 1930s Paris and young starlets getting ready backstage. Featuring local dance teachers and dancers Gemma Adams and Elly Molloy, with the Boathouse Theatre as backdrop, brought its own local charm to this set.

New Zealand-based design house Lonely is an advocate for real women, celebrating their strength and individuality. Finding beauty in the unconventional gave rise to their Lonely Girls Project, a journal that allows women to post candid photos of themselves wearing Lonely, with no touch ups. The result is a series of portraits where the natural, unrestricted beauty of women from all walks of life is proudly displayed without an ounce of inhibition; it’s a poignant campaign for positive body image. Add to it the fact that their designs are incredibly comfortable, and you can see why women are so passionate about this label. At Thomas’s this range is hugely popular with customers of all ages. In the words of Lonely designer Helene Morris, Lonely is:

“For women who wear lingerie as a love letter to themselves.”

Bringing to life our favourite labels is what Ingrid does best, for this spread designing a theatrical scene to showcase our two starlets, as they prepare backstage for the spotlight. Choosing such an intimate label for this magazine spread was an obvious choice for Ingrid, who calls it, “a fashion piece to be worn and seen. The minute the girls put the lingerie on they were in love with the comfort and femininity of it.” Paired with luxe robes by Cathy Campbell, you can see why these are pieces meant to be shown off.

The Lonely shoot appears in Admire’s latest edition, out 7 April – and the second to last Marlborough edition before it merges with the Nelson/Tasman spread. Working with Admire has been a dream, as they highlight local talent, entertainment and foodie culture as well as giving insight into who’s who and what’s what in Marlborough. Get your copy now.

The Lonely range is available in-store at Thomas’s – take a cue from our shoot and become your own Lonely Girl.

Lonely at Thomas's by David James Photography

Photographer: David James

Stylist: Ingrid Binsted-Pickering

Makeup Artist: Grace Simpson

Hairdresser: Ashleigh Nott

Models: Gemma Adams & Elly Molloy

Robes by Cathy Campbell https://www.facebook.com/Cathy-Campbell-1539029719670100/?ref=ts&fref=ts

Special thanks to the Boathouse Theatre for the use of backstage.


When Marlborough made it happen

Holmdale, image courtesy of Marlborough Historical Society

Holmdale, image courtesy of Marlborough Historical Society

With housing shortages and homelessness a current New Zealand-wide issue, it’s timely to reflect on an excellent example of the Marlborough community working together to make a lasting difference for vulnerable people.

Lots of people will be familiar with the Bethsaida Retirement Village, but not all will know the inspiring story of community endeavour behind its creation.

In 1973 a group of prominent Blenheim citizens set up the Bethsaida Trust, the purpose of which was to establish a Home for the care of the frail and dependent elderly, of either sex, without discrimination as to race, religion or political belief.

Back in the early 1970s there were not many private homes for elderly people, and housing options were limited. The local priest, Father Sloane, was concerned that some elderly were effectively about to become homeless – there was no assistance from the government at the time – and he started the ball rolling within the community to create what would become Bethsaida Home for the Aged.

A Marlborough Express article written while Bethsaida was doing further fundraising after its opening, explained: “Bethsaida is unique among institutions in New Zealand caring for the aged – it provides for the totally dependent and who are not hospital cases. As such it does not qualify in any way for Government subsidy. It is dependent solely on residents’ fees for all it operational costs…”

Bethsaida and Holmdale history, newspaper heading from 1970

Bethsaida and Holmdale history, newspaper heading from 1970


Our very own Terence Thomas was one of three trustees who along with Father Sloane, took on the responsibility for making the vision a reality. These three trustees and various other volunteers in the community worked tirelessly to secure a location and ongoing funding for the home, which was eventually opened in 1973 in the old Holmdale nurse’s home on Litchfield Street, Blenheim.

Originally housing fifteen residents, the building was rented from the Marlborough Hospital Board for the princely sum of $2.00 per year. In 1988 the other Holmdale Maternity Hospital buildings – which will be familiar to many Marlburians as the place in which they were born, or gave birth – were offered to the Bethsaida Trust, and the rest home was able to expand.

Brian Kerridge and Terry Thomas at Bethsaida, Blenheim

Brian Kerridge (left) and Terry Thomas with a cheque for the Marlborough Area Health Board, standing in front of Bethsaida.

 Holmdale was the main maternity hospital in Marlborough for nearly 70 years, from 1918 (when it was purchased from James Bell who had used it as his private residence). Holmdale, in its maternity hospital guise, finally closed on 1 October 1987 and the main building became part of the Bethsaida home.

In 1992 when it was demolished (see photo below) to make way for more housing for the elderly, many Marlburians came for a final look. The history of Holmdale wasn’t entirely lost as many people bought salvaged materials from the building for their own projects and the Blenheim Riverside Railway Society reused timber and other materials for its planned rebuild of the Picton railway station at Brayshaw Park.

Jack Kundycki (left) and Terry Thomas (right) of the Bethsaida board of management with contractor Peter Heagney at Holmdale.

Jack Kundycki (left) and Terry Thomas (right) of the Bethsaida board of management with contractor Peter Heagney at Holmdale. The interior has been gutted, and the roof is being stripped in the background.” Marlborough Express 7 April 1992

While the government does now come to the party assisting elderly people with housing, Bethsaida maintains an essential role in our community being the only rest home in Marlborough to offer units for rental rather than solely for purchase.

Michael Thomas took over from his father and is now a proud trustee of the Bethsaida board. We’re very proud of our grandfather’s and father’s involvement in this great community venture (and our children think it’s great having a street named after their great grandfather!).


All of the images and newspaper cuttings above are used with the kind permission of the Marlborough Historical Society Inc. Marlborough Museum Archives.

Have you discovered this treasure trove of Marlborough history for yourself in the Research Room at the Marlborough Museum next to Brayshaw Park? If you’re interested in your family history, the history of your house, old copies of the Marlborough Express – or just love beautiful old maps and photos – then you’re in for a treat. The staff are very helpful and can find all sorts of goodies hidden away in the multitude of boxes!


Two powerhouse New Zealand designers now have their own areas in store

Karen Walker concept area at Thomas's Lonely concept area at Thomas'sWe’re delighted to have launched new concept areas recently in store with two powerhouse Kiwi brands – Karen Walker and Lonely.

Karen Walker – one of New Zealand’s biggest fashion exports – made the news over the weekend with her decision not to show at New York Fashion Week this season. She’s been a regular on the New York fashion circuit for a decade but has just announced that with the changes in social media marketing New York no longer works for her. You can read more about it here. Brave call for a brave designer and it is testament to her status and influence that this decision isn’t likely to hurt her sales.

The Karen Walker aesthetic captures a sense of eccentric elegance and her clothes and accessories are beloved around the world, including by personalities such as Alexa Chung, Lorde, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid and Florence Welch. Come in and experience the Karen Walker phenomenon with a new spring range that is all about colour and distinctive patterns.

Karen Walker concept store at Thomas's“Fostering a sense of positive body image and freedom of expression, Lonely eschews conventional marketing, bringing its collections to life via the Lonely Girls Project, a journal featuring women around the world from all walks of life captured wearing Lonely in their way.”

These are the words of Helene Morris, Lonely designer, who along with Steve Ferguson makes up the Auckland-based Lonely duo. The Lonely Girls Project focuses on real women – of many sizes and shapes – being photographed in their underwear. And it is due to this refreshing approach to marketing, as well as the beautiful designs, that Lonely is fast gaining cult status across the globe.

These guys are big on Instagram. Follow along to find out more about the Lonely Girls Project.

Lonely - new range at Thomas'sLonely celebrates women’s strength and individuality with beautiful, and comfortable, lingerie, swimwear and clothing. This latest spring summer 2016 range was inspired by the movie Ghost World, starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson.

Lonely is appealing to a broad range of women here in Marlborough – all ages are snapping up the lingerie and enjoying the flexibility of the clothing which can be dressed up or down. We’ve had great feedback and there’s more lingerie and lounge wear arriving at the end of the month and then again in November, when the swimwear will make its appearance.

Come in store and see what all the fuss is about. Our wonderful staff in womenswear would love to help you discover the Karen Walker and Lonely collections for yourself.

Image credit: In-store photographs by Peter Burge


















Thomas & Sons – meet master cook Marcia Chang-Hong and try the new winter dine-in menu

Thomas and Sons Cafe 103 years in the making, Blenheim

Marcia Chang-Hong at Thomas and Sons. Photo credit: Peter Burge Photography

Thomas & Sons – 103 years in the making…

The café concept was actually something Hamish and Tim Thomas looked at seven or eight years ago but decided the timing wasn’t quite right, so they opened Scotch instead in 2008, owning it for six years. They learnt a lot over this time, “as hospitality is quite different to retail”, and those skills helped with Thomas & Sons, particularly in the setup and they were able to use this experience to get the formula right for the café.

The cafe at Thomas’s opened on 20 November 2015 with coffee and treats from the counter but the kitchen has now come in-house, as has the dining, and a full winter menu is in operation.

Marcia Chang-Hong, cook extraordinaire, has been instrumental from the beginning. Marcia much prefers the title cook to chef as she believes cooking is a “natural, fundamental thing.” Confident in the quality of her food, Marcia is however very humble and doesn’t like any of the fuss associated with being a chef. “I just want to make fresh, simple, rustic food”. Hamish and Tim knew of Marcia as they’d been guests at her legendary dinners and were thrilled when she agreed to come on board for their new venture.

Marcia has a fascinating history. Born in Trinidad to Chinese parents who had emigrated there in the early 1950s, Marcia then went to high school and university in Toronto, Canada and it was there she fell into cooking. Restaurants in Toronto and Vancouver were followed by an eight-year stint in London where she cooked at top restaurants Kensington Place and the Brackenbury before her then husband Peter Burge suggested a move back to his hometown of Blenheim.

Marcia admits she wasn’t ready for the change of pace then, she loved her work and the busy life in London and coming to Blenheim in 2003 was quite hard, but she loves it here now.  “Marlborough allows for a beautiful way of living, no traffic, open space, great people, lots of good produce – and where else in the world could I get to milk a cow for fresh milk and cheese making?”

Marcia Chang-Hong, at work at in the kitchen at Thomas and Sons, Blenheim

Marcia Chang-Hong, at work at in the kitchen at Thomas and Sons. Photo credit: Peter Burge Photography

It wasn’t too long after arriving in Marlborough that word of Marcia’s skills and experience got around and she has been in hot demand ever since. Before starting at Thomas & Sons Marcia worked overtime as a freelance chef doing private dinners, as well as cooking for top wineries around the region.

Marcia was keen for a more regular and less frantic work schedule. Having said that, she’s still pretty busy with cooking in the Thomas & Sons kitchen six days a week. All of the beautiful food sold in the cafe is prepared and cooked by Marcia and everything is made from scratch, right down to the delicious chutneys and breads.

 Originally working out of commercial kitchens off-site, Marcia is now in her fifth week in the brand new in-house Thomas & Sons kitchen. It was hard working off-site as Marcia had a limited link with the cafe and was therefore also limited with what she could prepare, cook and deliver. Now being onsite she can make meals fresh and send them out straight away. She also likes being close by to see what’s working and what’s not.

The new winter menu was produced by Marcia working alongside Hamish. From the new menu Marcia is a particular fan of “Grandma Thomas’s savoury mince on toast”. While the recipe is Marcia’s, the meal and title is a nod to Tim and Hamish’s memories of their grandparents’ mince on toast specialty. Marcia also highly recommends the chicken katsu sandwich and pork banh mi rolls. “I like food to have a bit of flavour and be fresh and tasty.”

Thomas and Sons cafe, Marlborough It’s worth popping along to Thomas & Sons regularly as some treats are served only on particular days of the week. Friday, for example, is Marcia’s delicious pizza and the to-die-for chocolate brioche. “Peter, who used to be a baker, says they’re as good as you can get anywhere in the world. Better than in France even. We’re so lucky in Blenheim that we’ve got these, even if it’s only one day a week!” And don’t miss “the best donuts in the world” on Saturdays.


Another item not to be missed is Marcia’s carrot cake, for which she is famous all over the world. “Every time I make it people always go crazy, even if they say they don’t like carrot cake!”

We’re so lucky to have Marcia here in Marlborough – come and try the new winter menu and treat yourself to some of Marcia’s magic.

Thomas and Sons Dine in winter menu 2016
















Team Thomas’s Running Hot!

A big shout out to team Thomas’s, racking up more than 1000 kilometres in training for the Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon – and there’s still four weeks ‘til race day!

Ten of the Thomas’s team have signed up to take part in the Vineyard Half next month, trading up comfy summer sandals for running shoes and forgoing after-work drinks for early morning training sessions, in a true test of grit and willpower.

This is the second year we’ve entered a team, and co-owner Tim Thomas says while we originally entered to support a fantastic Marlborough event, we’ve also built team camaraderie and energy through collectively working towards a common goal.

“We see this event as a good thing for Marlborough and local businesses which all benefit from the influx of visitors to the town,” Tim says.

“It’s also a great opportunity to get our staff involved, we’ve had a great time training and building up for it.  And while race day itself is loads of fun, all the training and anticipation has been a catalyst for motivating and energising the whole team.”

“It’s an incredible event, we want to be a part of it.”

It’s important for businesses to support local events, and this year Thomas’s has extended their support and partnered with the Vineyard Half as sponsors, says Tim.

“These events are so important to the region, if we can show visitors a really good time – not just at the event itself, but for their whole stay – maybe we can get them to stay longer, or return with their families at a later date.”

The Vineyard Half’s commitment to raising money and awareness for Beat Bowel Cancer Aotearoa, cemented our support of the event, because of the impact the terrible disease has had on their family.

Their Aunty died of bowel cancer in 1996, only three months after diagnosis, and their father Michael recently had a close call, serving as a wake up call for the family, Tim says.

Early detection is key, so raising awareness is crucial and something we hope to achieve with our involvement in sponsoring this event.”

Keep an eye out for Thomas’s at registration, where we’ll be displaying some of our gorgeous designer outfits from Kowtow, Kate Sylvester and KetzKe – you might see something special to wear at the post-race function Revelry.

We also stock a full range of Icebreaker and Mons Royale gear, so if you find you’ve left home without your socks or running top – pop in and see us, we’ll make sure you’re sorted for race day.

Enjoy the event, have an incredible day, we look forward to seeing you there.