Fit for all seasons: Why Wairarapa is a year-round holiday destination

A region of character and contrasts, Wairarapa is incredible at any time of year.



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Stuff Travel

From quaint towns and villages to gourmet experiences, rugged coastline to forest sanctuaries, Wairarapa is diverse and full of experiences that will make you never want to leave. It's a region of contrasts; a place of both big skies and intimate spaces, of wild landscapes and cosy retreats, country hospitality and sophisticated food and wine. With so much that's wildly charming to experience only a 70 minute drive from the capital, this is a getaway destination you can enjoy year-round, returning again and again for a unique holiday each and every time. GOURMET GOODS A combination of Wairarapa's temperate climate, fertile soils and abundant space provide the perfect conditions for local producers to thrive. Visitors to the region can expect a year-round ‘gate-to-plate' experience. Tasty treats The region is one giant larder stocked with gourmet cuisine that's infused with heart and soul. Visit one of the local markets to savour award-winning cheese, olive oil, honey, sausages, coffee and bread, along with fresh fruit and vegetables. Greytown's abundance of small independent stores, restaurants and cafes make it a must-visit destination on any itinerary. The White Swan is a Greytown institution, and its focus on regional food means there's something delicious and seasonal for all to enjoy. For those with a sweet tooth there's Schoc Chocolates, with beautiful hand-crafted treats in over 85 flavours. Wine trails Wairarapa is also at the heart of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, a self-drive route connecting three wine-producing regions. Rent a car or hire a bike and explore flat roads lined by vineyards, farms and olive groves and dotted with colonial cottages and grand homesteads that surround more than 35 cellar doors. Take your time exploring and sipping away at world-class pinot noir, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc – the perfect pastime for a girls' getaway or holiday with friends. A NATURE-LOVER’S PLAYGROUND For those who like to get away from it all, Wairarapa offers an abundance of incredible encounters with nature. No matter how you like to get your outdoor fix, there's an activity here for you. Tramping and camping The Waiohine Gorge has excellent swimming spots, family-friendly camping and beautiful walks. Tararua Forest Park is just a few minutes' drive from Masterton, Carterton, Greytown and Featherston, but the 116,535 hectare playground feels like another world, with tramps for beginners through to seasoned wilderness hikers and several DoC huts for overnight stays. Bird watching Budding ornithologists and recreational birdwatchers will be in their element in Wairarapa. At the north of the valley, Pukāha National Wildlife Centre has 942 hectares of surrounding primeval forest teeming with native birds including kiwi, kōkako and kākā. Wairarapa Moana is home to rare birdlife including the banded dotterel, albatross and the Caspian Tern. Pedal power The Remutaka Rail Trail is an 18km easy bike ride or walk through old railway tunnels and over bridges, with some excellent views along the way. Green Jersey Explorer Tours offers guided tours of the Remutaka Rail Trail. IMMERSE YOURSELF IN OTHER WORLDS Historical and cultural experiences add to Wairarapa's charm – and give you a whole host of different worlds to explore. Dive into the past Wairarapa is filled with rich museums showcasing everything from Art to classic cars: • Aratoi, Wairarapa museum of art and history is an amazing public gallery. A must see when in Masterton. • Greytown's Cobblestones Museum, a historic village complete with Cobblestones schoolhouse, fire station, church, hospital, family home and interactive displays that kids will love; • Exquisite Māori taonga/treasures at Aratoi in Masterton; • H199, the only locomotive of its type in the world, housed at Fell Locomotive Museum in Featherston; • Brancepeth, a colonial homestead and gardens near Masterton still owned by the family who settled on the land in 1856. Go on a skate date Family-fun awaits at beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park in the center of Masterton. Home to many attractions, the latest is a stunning new state-of-the-art skatepark guaranteed to supercharge thrill-seeking Generation Z'ers and mini-millennials. For something more sedate. take a ride on a miniature steam train or on the water in a pedal boat. The adjacent kids playground is one of the best in the country. COASTAL CAPERS Iconic lighthouses Wild and spectacular coastlines are within an hour's drive. For a coastal road trip, head to Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve to discover some geological marvels, then follow the coastline to the quirky fishing village of Ngawi, where tractors almost outnumber people. Further along is the magnificent cast-iron Cape Palliser lighthouse, marking the southernmost point of the North Island. Another iconic lighthouse can be found at Castlepoint, a 50 minute drive east of Masterton. The jagged limestone reefs, golden sand beach and the imposing Castle Rock are spellbinding. North of Castlepoint is rugged Mataikona with unusual rock formations exposed at low tide, or head south to the popular beach settlement of Riversdale. For more Wairarapa holiday inspiration, visit