10 Damn Good Things to Do in Wairarapa© Miles Holden - Tourism New Zealand
10 Damn Good Things to Do in Wairarapa

10 Best Things to Do in Wairarapa

© Miles Holden – Tourism New Zealand

The Great Escape!

Too often do travellers 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 – find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.

tourism NZ© tourism NZ

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.

Adzze at English Wikipedia© Adzze at English Wikipedia

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. Find out more about Puhaka National Wildlife Centre on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Maree McLeod on Wikipedia© Maree McLeod on Wikipedia

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 on Viator and Tripadvisor. Learn more in 10 Great Bike Trails on the North Island.

10 Damn Good Things to Do in Wairarapa© Johnny Hendrikus - WellingtonNZ

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.

brent simpson on Wikipedia© brent simpson on Wikipedia

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!

10 Damn Good Things to Do in Wairarapa© Miles Holden - Tourism New Zealand

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 1,500 metres (4,921 feet) above sea level!

Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia© Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia

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.

Simon Robinson, 2002 on Wikipedia© Simon Robinson, 2002 on Wikipedia

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.

 Krzysztof Belczy?ski on FLickr© Krzysztof Belczy?ski on FLickr

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.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

More Things to Do Near Wairarapa

That’s it for the best things to do in Wairarapa. Find more activities on your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do on the North Island.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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