Situated on the East Coast of the North Island within close proximity to the Capital City of Wellington, this region is primarily focussed on farming and more recently has seen the development of a number of new wineries around Featherston and Martinborough.


The Wairarapa stretches east from the Tararua Ranges to the Pacific Ocean. The Rimutaka Mountain Range borders it from Wellington to the south. Sheltered by mountains, the region has warm summers and crisp winters. The region is one of mostly pastoral farmland, and a flourishing wine industry. Its east coast is home to sandy beaches and some excellent surf. To the east, the mountainous Tararua Forest Park has an extensive network of tracks and huts. Visitors can take a gentle hour’s walk or an adventurous hike lasting several days.

New Zealand’s first sheep stations were established in the Wairarapa in 1844, and today the area is home to over 3 million sheep.

The region’s largest town is Masterton, a busy town and host to the annual Golden Shears event, the biggest sheep shearing competition in the world. The competition stands testament to the region’s sheep rearing heritage. The town has a good selection of shops and an attractive park with a lake and an excellent children’s playground. Nearby Mt Bruce National Park has a collection of some of New Zealand’s most endangered native birds. Eketahuna, 10km further north is the region's most northerly town.

To the south, Carterton has a paua shell factory, a chocolate shop and is an access point for the Tararua Forest Park. Further south the pretty town of Greytown has some historic buildings and excellent cafes. Its Early Settler's museum has restored buildings and horse drawn carriages from the era. Featherston, at the foot of the Rimutaka Range, is the last town before climbing the winding mountain road to Wellington. It has a selection of antique shops and is also home to the Fell Engine museum which documents the history of the Rimutaka incline railway.

On the region's southerly coastline are the spectacular Putangirua Pinnacles, and Cape Palliser, the North Island's most southerly point and home to the country’s largest breeding colony of fur seals. There is also surf fishing from the south coast beaches and fishing in nearby Lake Wairarapa.

The small, pretty town of Martinborough is home to the region's grape growing and wine making industry. It plays host to the annual Wine and Food Festival, and there is an excellent art and crafts fair twice a year.

The Wairarapa region has an excellent choice of accommodation ranging in price and quality from motels, guest houses and farm stays to more expensive boutique hotels and luxury lodges. Wharekauhau Lodge on the South coast is a good example of the types of luxury accommodation that compete for worldwide rewards.

On the region's east coast are the popular weekend retreats of Castlepoint and Riversdale. Castlepoint has an unusual castle shaped rock formation and a safe swimming lagoon. Riversdale has a long sandy beach and a golf course. Surfing is also popular along its coastline.

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