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.
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.
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.
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.