Wairarapa, New Zealand
Leave the city and enter a contemporary style of country life that fully embraces the pleasures of fine wine and good food. Take in the heritage while you indulge your hedonistic urges.
The Wairarapa region is situated on the south-eastern part of the North Island, about 60 kilometres north east of Wellington City.
As of June 2005, Wairarapa's estimated population was 32,100.
Known for its hot, languid summers, the Wairarapa provides a relaxing, refined country break away from the pressures of urban life.
The Wairarapa area is a rich sheep-farming district with more than 100 farm and home stays located in idyllic countryside.
The region, especially Martinborough, is fast gaining a reputation for premium wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc varieties.
Historical Greytown is New Zealand's first inland town. It has retained its delightful colonial village character with careful preservation of the many wooden Victorian buildings.
Main Attractions and Activities
About 20 kilometres north of the main centre of Masterton is Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre.
Set amidst a pocket of ancient rainforest, this centre is where the New Zealand Department of Conservation runs its captive breeding programme for threatened bird species. Visitors can take a walk with a professional conservation officer through natural bush aviaries.
In the ranges to the West are the Rimutaka and Tararua forest parks, which contain a network of huts and trails that begin at many road-end picnic spots. Adventure activities include four-wheel driving, rafting, jetboating, abseiling, tandem skydiving, horse trekking, canoeing, hot air ballooning and gliding.
Wine tasting is encouraged at many of the vineyards and wineries clustered round the colonial village of Martinborough. The village has craft shops and several excellent restaurants, especially the wonderfully restored Martinborough Hotel.
Around 30 of the Wairarapa private gardens open to visitors are at their best from September to March, but some are open and provide refreshments year round.
Beyond Masterton lies the wild, dramatic scenery of Castle Point beach, complete with a picturesque lighthouse that looks across the sea towards Antarctica.
- Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre
- Martinborough wine village
- Cape Palliser seal colony
- Putangirua Pinnacles - eroded cliff face on south coast
- Castlepoint Scenic Reserve - on the east coast
- Mt Holdsworth forest and mountain walks, Rimutaka
- Forest Park
- Masterton - Wairarapa's main town