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U.S.FTC GUIDELINES PLEASE NOTE: we act as an affiliate for several companies that feature on our website. In some cases we may earn a commission from referrals to those companies. For further information please refer to our Privacy and Disclaimer policies which can be found in the "US" tab.

Come to the Wairarapa and experience some of the best food, wine and scenery in New Zealand.

Why not come and visit the Wairarapa.

The stunning scenery at Castle Point - picture courtesy Mike Heydon

Sitting at the southern end of the North Island (and to the east of Wellington), the Wairarapa region is home to several nature reserves and has a wild, rugged coastline.

Masterton, with a population of around 25,000, is the region's largest town and the commercial centre of the region.

Other towns are Martinborough (famous for its many wineries), Greytown (lots of cafes and restaurants), Carterton and Gladstone.

Getting here

If you are traveling from Wellington, it's about one and a half hours drive to Masterton along State Highway 2.

From Wellington to Martinborough is around one hours drive via State Highway 2, then SH53.

Please refer to our State Highways map.

Classic Wine Trail - a Wairarapa favorite

The region is renowned for its quality pinot noir and pinot gris, and is located on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail .

Fun in the Martinborough wineries - pic courtesy Scott Vennin

The village of Martinborough is located within easy walking or riding distance of numerous wineries, and makes a perfect base from which to explore.

The region caters well for visitors with numerous B & Bs, and a wide range of cafes and restaurants, which showcase the very best of local produce.

The region's pinot noir and pinot gris wines have won many awards, but the area's favourable climate and soils also support several other varieties including merlot.

Wairarapa Toast Martinborough Festival Courtesy Scott Venning

Visitors to either have a wide choice of dining and winery options, and guided winery tours are a great way to meet the locals and sample the best of the regions's produce.

Visitors can sample wines at the Martinborough Wine Centre, and you can even take a leisurely cycle or horse drawn carriage tour around the wineries.

Fine dining experiences abound, and at the time of writing, two local restaurants, Wendy Campbell’s French Bistro, and The Martinborough (located on site at Peppers Martinborough), have won New Zealand national food awards.

View our great range of Winery Tours

There are various winery tours in and around Martinborough.

You can choose from guided to self guided tours, and you can even choose to cycle around the wineries.

To read reviews, check availability and book your tour just click on the button below:


The Maori people have a long association with the region and it is believed that Maori first settled there more than 800 years ago.

Stunning scenery at Castle Point - pic courtesy Mike Heydon

The name Wairarapa means the "land of the glistening waters", and according to legend, Maui, the explorer, hooked the North Island (a fish). What is now known as Palliser Bay is the fish mouth and Lake Wairarapa is the eye of the fish.

Captain James Cook, the English explorer, visited the region in 1770, and named the southern area after his friend Sir Hugh Palliser. European settlers began colonising the region from around 1841.

Life for the early settlers was particularly hard, and records show that in 1844, local farmers drove a flock of sheep along the coastline and onto the beach at Palliser Bay, where they then had to carry each sheep through the waves and over rocks at Mukamuka.

The arrival of Scandinavian settlers in the 1870s saw the construction of railways and roads, and the clearing of forest for farmland. One of the world's steepest rail lines, the Rimutaka Incline, has a gradient of 1:15. It was completed in 1877 and opened a link with Wellington.

Where To Stay? The Region Has Something To Suit All Tastes And Budgets

A relaxed lifestyle, a beautiful natural environment, and wonderful dining and wine options make the region the perfect holiday destination.

But where to stay?

Your accommodation options cover the full range, from camping grounds, to hotels, to apartments and B & Bs, and even luxury lodges.

Fine dining at Peppers Martinborough - pic courtesy

The historic Peppers Martinborough is a lovely boutique hotel with the added advantage of an award winning restaurant.

The Wharekauhau Country Estate is a working sheep station which overlooks beautiful Palliser Bay. As one of New Zealand’s top lodges, it's the perfect indulgence if budget allows. The lodge offers farm tours, a spa, guided horse treks and a wonderful dining experience.

You can read reviews, search for and book a wide range of Wairarapa accommodation using the links below:

* Click on the link to view a wide range of Masterton accommodation.

* Click on the following link to search for Martinborough accommodation.

* Click the following link to find Greytown hotels.

* Follow the link to read reviews and book accommodation in Carterton.

Wairarapa Nature and Wildlife

If you want to experience New Zealand's natural environment, this is the place for you.

Wairarapa Tuatara At Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre Courtesy Destination Wairarapa

A combination of rugged coastline and extensive forests provides the perfect conditions for some of New Zealand's iconic wildlife to thrive.

The Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre is a sanctuary for native birds, many of which are endangered.

Visitors can see the iconic kiwi, the kokako and the kaka.

At Cape Palliser, fur seals frolic, particularly during the breeding season from October to January.

Walkers are well catered for with the Lake Wairarapa wetlands and the Aorangi, Rimutaka and Tararua forest parks.

And romantics will love the Sunrise at Castle Point.

Thrill seekers have a wide range of activities available including surfing at Castle Point, kayaking and rafting on the Waiohene river, surf fishing, and abseiling (at Waiohene gorge).

Here Are A Few More Activities In The Wairarapa Region

* Visit the Early Settler's Museum at Greytown for a feel of what life was like in the 1800s.

Wairarapa Balloons Over Wairarapa Courtesy Balloons Over Wairarapa

* Learn all about the Rimutaka Incline at the Fell Locomotive Museum, which houses the only remaining Fell engine in the world, and the only piece of the original track.

* Every March, Masterton hosts the Balloon Fiesta, attracting over 15,000 visitors to view the gathering of hot air balloons, with many unusual designs on display.

* Shear Discovery in Masterton, is the nation's only museum devoted entirely to the wool industry.

* Enjoy the countryside on a cycle ride on the old Rimutaka Rail Trail.


Some Interesting Wairarapa Facts

Wairarapa Tora Tora Mountain Bike Track Martinborough Courtesy Destination Wairarapa

* In 2005 a southern hemisphere "Stonehenge" opened near Carterton.

The full size replica of the original Stonehenge incorporates ancient Egyptian, Babylonian and Indus Valley astronomy, Polynesian navigation, and Celtic and Maori star lore.

* Martinborough’s central streets were designed in the shape of a Union Jack by British patriot and farmer John Martin.

* The Putangirua Pinnacles, which were featured in the Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, are over 1000 years old. Heavy rain has eroded the soft rocks which lose around one centimetre each year.

* The annual Toast Martinborough wine and food festival attracts more than 10,000 people to the region each November.

To learn more about the Wairarapa region, click here to go to the Tourism New Zealand's web site.


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