There’s much to discover from vineyard to village – all within a short, scenic drive or train ride from Wellington. The picturesque region offers a range of wine tourism activities, unique accommodation, and superb dining options making it a popular short break getaway destination for locals as well as Australian visitors.
Wairarapa’s numerous boutique wineries are producing a range of varieties with exceptional results and you’ll find standout Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and aromatics here, as well as stylish Chardonnay, Syrah and dessert wines.
Wairarapa’s wine country has three main sub-regions - Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton – all sharing similar climate and soil structures, yet offering subtle differences in character. Masterton is Wairarapa’s largest town and was the first area in the region where grapes were planted, over a century ago. The Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival each March showcases Gladstone’s bounty and is a popular time to visit.
The charm of a wine tour in Wairarapa is the easy access of the many cellar doors. The little wine village of Martinborough is at the heart of any wine experience. More than 20 small wineries, most within walking or cycling distance of the quaint village square, make for a memorable walk- or cycle-the-vines experience. The region is also at the heart of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, a self-guided touring route from Hawke’s Bay to Marlborough.
Artisan food producers and a vibrant café and dining scene make Martinborough and Greytown popular with foodies. Greytown’s beautifully restored Victorian wooden buildings also house a range of interesting and chic specialty stores.
For visitors looking to get off the beaten track, long stretches of beach, expansive forests and hills offer the perfect natural ingredient for great holiday adventures. Castlepoint and Riversdale are popular beaches for surfing and fishing, and the coastal hills are the place for guided coastal walks. Cyclists can follow the Rimutaka Cycle Trail – one of the 23 Great Rides on the New Zealand Cycle Trail – travelling from Wellington all the way to Wairarapa and exploring the region’s Māori history and wild coastal landscapes.
Wairarapa is easily accessible from the capital city of Wellington, just over an hour’s drive (or train ride) through scenic countryside.
Don’t miss: visit the incredibly rare white kiwi bird called Manukura at Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre , a conservation treasure and home to a host of NZ native species.
Also make sure you see the intriguing Stonehenge Aotearoa in the Wairarapa countryside near Carterton – a full-scale replica of the original stone circle in the UK.