Wairarapa - Rural Charm and Great Wine
Situated in the southeastern corner of the North Island, just a 90-minute drive from Wellington, the lightly-populated region of Wairarapa is beginning to rival its neighbour, Hawke's Bay, with a fast-growing reputation for fine wines. The area specialises in 'boutique wineries', in the sub-regions of Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton. The Wairarapa Wine Trail will guide you around this delightful rural area and allow you to plan your own routes around the 40 or so vineyards available.
For those interested in something a little more active, a walk around the forest parks of Rimutaka, Tararua and Aorangi will showcase the area's vibrant flora and fauna, whilst the Waiohine Gorge is where the more adventurous visitor can indulge in kayaking, swimming and abseiling.
Wairarapa's wild coastline is perfect for a scenic drive, with various picnic points along the way where you can sit and eat your lunch and just enjoy the view.
The wine capital of Wairarapa, Martinborough is particularly proud of its Pinot Noir. A 'Walk the Wineries' self-guided trail around the town is unsurprisingly popular with visitors, who can just park the car and get tasting. Together, with the excellent range of restaurants and variety of accommodation here, it's no wonder Martinborough is a popular base for exploring the Wairarapa region.
The largest town in Wairarapa, Masterton is perhaps best known for hosting the annual Golden Shears world shearing and wool handling championships. It's a fierce competition that even has junior categories to get the kids involved, and you don't have to be a farmer to enjoy the various activities on offer during the festival – there really is something for everyone. Masterton is also a great place for shopping and, once you've had a walk around the many parks and museums, a spot of retail therapy will be just the thing to finish off the day.
Boasting the only high street in New Zealand consisting entirely of Victorian architecture, it is fitting that Greytown is a magnet for treasure hunters, keen to dig out a bargain in the many antique shops here. Full of charm, you can get a very real sense of life in a bygone age, by checking out the many protected buildings such as those housed in the Cobblestones Museum, or The Greytown Hotel. Greytown is very popular with campers, especially on holiday weekends, so bear this in mind when planning a visit.
50km southeast of Wellington, the promontory of Cape Palliser is the North Island's southernmost point. Wildlife lovers will be drawn to the permanent fur seal colony established here, whilst at the nearby settlement of Ngawi, you can witness the strange sight of dozens of fishing boats being pushed into the sea by bulldozers.
An hour’s drive from Masterton, this small coastal town is a great place to unwind for a few hours. Miles of soft sands and a tranquil lagoon mean that jet-skiing, surfing and fishing are popular here. The nearby lighthouse is also worth a visit, as is the sandy beach and network of caves underneath it.
Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre
Dedicated to restoring and preserving the natural wildlife of the area, the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre specialises in using captive breeding as a conservation method. The centre actively encourages members of the public to help with this - by making a donation; becoming a sponsor; or even 'whacking a rat' (helping to provide fences and bait stations to keep pests away). Children, particularly, love it here, as they can get really close to the animals, either by seeing them on one of the forest walks, or checking out the daily feed stations, where creatures such as the kaka (bush parrots) are sure to attract attention.
Five Things To Do
|1. Stroll (stagger?) the Walking Wine Trail around Martinborough|
|2. Spend a day relaxing at one of the region's many little coastal village|
|3. Visit the North Island’s largest colony of fur seals at Cape Palliser|
|4. Help protect nature at Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre|
|5. Step back in time on a visit to historic Greytown|
By air, the nearest international airport is Wellington, with daily inbound flights from most places. Martinborough is 90 mins drive away. Internally, Masterton has daily direct flights to and from Auckland, and is 40 mins drive from Martinborough.
Steamer Wharf, Queenstown
William Gilbert Rees Statue, Q...
Shaky Bridge - Alexandra
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