The Great Escape!
Too often do backpackers drive right through Wairarapa without realising the potential backpacking awesomeness that lies here. (Yes, that is a real sentence and we are sticking to it). The Wellington district is a great place to relax between busy touristic epicentres with its three forest parks, a huge coastline complete with lighthouses, and a core part of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail passing right through. Plus, by being only an hour’s train ride or drive from New Zealand’s capital, the district brands itself as “the great escape” and has the right to do so! So with all that in mind, we put this list together of the things to do in Wairarapa.
Here is why we think you should take your time when driving through Wairarapa and maybe even spend a few days in this must-visit part of Wellington.
1. Taste Some Awesome Wines
New Zealand is becoming a leader in the wine industry with the area around Martinborough being one of our flagship regions. Stop by one of the many wineries to have a taste of some of our great terroir. Most of the family-owned establishments will welcome you like an old friend in true Kiwi style. Either visit the wineries yourself or hire bikes/join a guided tour with Green Jersey Cycle Tours.
2. Visit Stonehenge
We have our own adaptation of the famous English Stonehenge right here in New Zealand. We call it “Stonehenge Aotearoa”, which comes complete with regular Druid ceremonies.
3. See Native New Zealand Wildlife
The stunning Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre is home to many rare birds including the world-famous in New Zealand “Manukura”, an extremely rare white kiwi bird.
4. Bike the Remutaka Cycle Trail
Easy enough for even the least experienced riders, the Remutaka Cycle Trail is a great introduction to biking in New Zealand, featuring wide ocean views, peaceful lakes, challenging hills and gullies, and a lot of farmland. Organise your cycle and transport here. Learn more in 10 Great Bike Trails on the North Island.
5. Visit the Tui Brewery
Probably the most iconic New Zealand beer, Tui is brewed in Mangatainoka. The brewery is open to visitors, offering tastings and a fun retail shop with a surprising variety of things “Tui”. Find out more in 5 Damn Good Brewery Tours in New Zealand.
6. Go to the Beach!
The region has two main beaches, Riversdale and Castlepoint. Both are great for surfing and swimming with Castlepoint featuring the iconic Castlepoint Lighthouse. Worth checking out, for sure!
7. Walk Around the Tararua Forest Park
The Tararua Forest Park is a great escape only minutes from Masterton. Climb up to Mitre Peak for a great view at over 1500 metres above sea level!
8. Satisfy the Train Nerd Within You
The small town of Featherston is home to the world’s last remaining fell engine. To find more about it and its history, head to the Fell Locomotive Museum.
9. Check out the Putangirua Pinnacles
A proof that the most surprising sights are often off the beaten track, the Putangirua Pinnacles hides in Palliser Bay along with a lighthouse (see below) and a fur seal colony.
10. Take a Picture of New Zealand’s Most Iconic Lighthouse
The Cape Palliser Lighthouse is one of New Zealand’s loneliest lighthouses, yet it is one of the most photographed. Don’t miss out this classic picture of New Zealand. Access is free to the braves that want to climb to the top.