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Destinations - Wairarapa

Wairarapa countrysideThe perfect escape from city living, Wairarapa sits on the southeast corner of New Zealand's North Island. Conveniently located about 60 kilometres north east of Wellington City, this contemporary rural retreat is made up of a cluster of quaint villages set amidst endless beautiful New Zealand countryside. The main town of the area is Masterton. Couples and families alike flock to Wairarapa to enjoy the country air, the hot languid summers and to get away from it all.

Martinborough VineyardsGourmet Wairarapa
Wairarapa is a well-known wine region, with wine tasting and tours acting as a popular pastime for visitors. There are a number of boutique vineyards in the area who welcome tourists with open arms. Most wine tours depart from the town of Martinborough, which is home to Martinborough Vineyards and also over thirty other mostly family-owned vineyards. For those venturing on a self-led tour, be sure not to miss Tirohana Estate Restaurant & Vineyard, Margrain Vineyard and the impressive Murdoch James Estate. While most vineyards and wine tours include gourmet food, delectable eats are in such abundance in Wairarapa that visitors can partake in separate food tours. Greytown is the artisan food capital of the region and is a regular stop on such tours.

Beautiful Birds and Country Walks
Kiwis at Pukaha ReserveLightly populated Wairarapa is home to stunning countryside, as well as New Zealand's own kiwi bird. For a chance to catch a glimpse of this shy national icon, visit the 940-hectare Pukaha Mount Bruce reserve. Located 20 minutes north of Masterton, the reserve includes an interactive exhibit, eel feeding show and more. Along with kiwis, the reserve is home to eels and tuatara lizards.
Lake Wairarapa Away from the coast is Lake Wairarapa, the largest lake in the area. Both locals and tourists visit the lake for its rare waterfowl, fishing, swimming, duck-shooting and relaxing. Basic facilities of picnic tables and toilets are provided. The lake and surrounds are also popular with wildlife and landscape photographers.

Walking and hiking are popular activities in Wairarapa due to the fact that the area's scenery has largely remained untouched by humans. Several tour companies operate in Wairarapa and take participants on two-three day walks around the coast and countryside. The walks allow visitors to cut through private land where sheep are farmed, quaint farming towns full of rural New Zealanders, and through to the stunning wild coastline that is so prominent in this region of the country. The walks are relatively easy and move and a gentle pace, making it an option for almost anyone. The Whareama and Orui coastlines are the most popular destinations.

Historic Roots
Wairarapa has a proud heritage as a farming region that was settled over 100 years ago. To this day, the area's towns are dotted with historic homes and buildings which act as a reminder of the past. Visitors can view many of these buildings which have been carefully preserved over the years.

Cottage at Cobblestones Early Settlers MuseumTo get into the pioneer spirit, head 18 kilometres north of Masterton to the Mt. Bruce Pioneer Museum. This private collection features working examples of equipment used by New Zealand's pioneers in the late 1800s, household items and memorabillia and provides a fascinating look into the lives of early colonists. In Greytown, the Cobblestones Early Settlers museum is another excellent historic site to visit. It contains a number of period buildings dating from the late 1800s including the area's first school, hospital, church, an original wool shed, stables, printing works and period cottage.

Getting There
The tiny towns of Wairarapa are an easy drive from Wellington at about an hour away. Air New Zealand operates regular flights between Auckland and Hood Airport in Masterton, located within Wairarapa. For those without access to a vehicle, several coach companies operate services between Masterton and the country's major cities.

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