Exploring the Wairarapa

The next time you’re down in Wellington and maybe looking to get out of the city for a day, look no further than the Wairarapa. This region has embraced wine and food in a big way and is a great place to head to sample some of New Zealand’s finest regional produce. From a gentle cycle around the vineyards of Martinborough to a trip out to the coast to explore Cape Palliser and the famous lighthouse – there’s heaps going on in the Wairarapa.

Things to see and do in the Wairarapa region

The region is absolutely packed full of diversity. Many people take the short trip up to Martinborough to sample the delicious wine and food that has put this region on the map. The annual Toast Martinborough Wine and Food Festival is one of the biggest and best in New Zealand and well worth adding to your calendar or list of things to do.

Local food and wine are the order of the day at Toast Martinborough
Local food and wine are the order of the day at Toast Martinborough

Away from the wine region of Martinborough, Masterton is the largest town in the region and is just a short 1 hour 25 minute drive from Wellington. We find one of the most relaxing ways to get there is to hop on a Tranz Metro train service which run regularly and take between an hour and three quarters to two hours depending on which service you manage to catch.

One of the most popular spots for visitors is Cape Palliser and the famous Castlepoint lighthouse which is pretty iconic around coastal New Zealand. You can also see fur seals at Cape Palliser and it is well worth the drive from Wellington. You can find out more about exploring the Cape Palliser coast in one of our recent blogs and make sure you check out the stunning video below to get inspired!

Eating out

The Wairarapa region is not short on places to eat out. It has become known as one of New Zealand’s most sophisticated places to eat out with some superb restaurants and eateries located throughout the region. Here are some of our top tips for places to eat out:

  • Ten O’Clock Cookie – Masterton
  • Village Café – Martinborough
  • Bar Salute – Greytown
  • Wairarapa Trading Company – Masterton
  • The Bistro Restaurant – Martinborough
Premium wine will be on offer at this year's Toast Martinborough Festival
Premium wine will be on offer at this year’s Toast Martinborough Festival

Places to stay

If you are looking to extend your trip up from Wellington and stay over for a night or two, there are heaps of accommodation options in the Wairarapa. From small boutique hotels like Petit Hotel in Martinborough to the bigger complexes including the Copthorne Hotel and Resort in Masterton. No matter what your budget or preference, there is something to meet all your needs in the Wairarapa but we would recommend sticking to the main centres of Masterton or Martinborough where you will be able to head out in the evenings for a nice meal and a glass of wine.

Getting there and away

As we have already mentioned, Masterton is around 1 hour 25 minutes from Wellington by car. It will take you around 2 hours 15 minutes to drive out to Cape Palliser but it is a truly stunning drive which definitely forms part of your trip out. The train from Wellington to Masterton is a great idea if you plan on heading up from the city for a day or even a night stop over and don’t want to hire a car. Once you get to Masterton there is plenty of exploring to be done on foot so it’s a great option.

Cape Palliser Lighthouse Photo credit: wairarapanz.com
Cape Palliser Lighthouse Photo credit: wairarapanz.com

We speak to so many of our guests at the Willis Wellington who have been through the Wairarapa Region on their way to Wellington and they just love it. The next time you’re in Wellington, ask us about a trip up to the Wairarapa and we will be only too pleased to make some recommendations.

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