Rural charm and vines


Rural charm and vines

Just ‘over the hill’ from New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, the Wairarapa region feels like a world away as the forested peaks of the Remutaka and Tararua ranges give way to rural plains. Once known for its meat and butter, Wairarapa has become a popular holiday destination and an important wine making region.

Wairarapa region marker

The small rural towns and villages of Masterton, Carterton, Greytown, Featherston and Martinborough offer a mix of art, history and of course, wine tasting. But it’s not all about the wine. There are a few scenic gems waiting for those willing to explore a little further afield.

Here are approximate travel times and distances to and from the region’s main centres and attractions.

Drive times

  • Wellington to Featherston: 60 km / 37 miles – 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Wellington to Martinborough: 80 km / 50 miles – 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Wellington to Masterton: 95 km / 59 miles – 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Palmerston North to Masterton: 90 km / 56 miles – 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Napier to Masterton: 230 km / 143 miles – 3 hours
  • Masterton to Castlepoint: 65 km / 40 miles – 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Martinborough to Cape Palliser: 70 km / 43 miles – 1 hour 20 minutes

Travel times can vary significantly, particularly in popular areas during peak visitor months (December – February). For current travel times and updates on delays, roadworks and road closures, use the NZ Transport Agency journey planner before travelling. It’s always a good idea to allow extra time for photo stops and, when travelling longer distances, rest stops.

A regular commuter train service runs between Wellington and Masterton, stopping at Featherston and Carterton. There are bus services connecting Featherston to Greytown and Martinborough.

Sheltered by the Tararua Range in the west, Wairarapa has a warm, dry climate that’s perfect for wine making. Summer (December – February) is typically settled with an average high of 23 °C / 73.4 °F and an average low of 11 °C / 51.8 °F but it can go over 30 °C on some days.

Winter (June – August) is mild to cool with frequent frosts. The average high in winter is 13 °C / 55.4 °F while the average low goes down to 3 °C / 37.4 °F.

Check current conditions and get the latest Wairarapa weather forecasts on MetService.com.

While there’s not much you can do about the weather once you’re here, it’s worth knowing what to expect at different times of the year and in different parts of the country. These two articles are well worth reading:

Top things to do in Wairarapa

Looking for ideas to help you plan the ultimate New Zealand outdoor adventure? Here are some of the top things for active travellers to see and do in the Wairarapa region.

Visit Cape Palliser

Cape Palliser is the southernmost point of New Zealand’s North Island. That in itself doesn’t make it a must-do place to visit. But if you do choose to explore the area, it’s definitely worth visiting the spectacular Putangirua Pinnacles, formed over thousands of years by erosion. Fun fact – the Putangirua Pinnacles was used as a location (Dimholt Road) in the Lord of the Rings movie, Return of the King. There is an easy walking track to the pinnacles and beyond for views of Palliser Bay and Lake Onoke.


Visit Castlepoint Scenic Reserve

No visit to Wairarapa would be complete without heading to the coast to see the iconic lighthouse at Castlepoint. There are two easy walking tracks in the reserve, one to the lighthouse and one to the top of Castle Rock, named in 1770 by Captain Cook who thought it looked similar to the battlements of a castle.

Castlepoint Lighthouse

Ride the Remutaka (Rimutaka) Cycle Trail

There are a number of different cycling options in Wairarapa, including of course a wine trail. But if you’re anything like us, you’re probably also interested in more adventurous alternatives in which you should definitely consider the Remutaka Cycle Trail.

This 114 km / 71 mile trail is officially recognised as one of New Zealand’s Great Rides. Starting in Petone, approximately 10 km / 6 miles north of Wellington, there are four sections, each offering a distinctive experience from urban to forested mountains to lake shore and finally rugged coastline. Depending on your fitness and the time you have available, you can choose to cycle the trail over one, two or three days. All the details you need are on the Wellington website.

Rimutaka Cycle Trail