The rural lifestyle and country charm of New Zealand’s heartland are revealed on a trip to the Wairarapa region, an area of sheep-raising, vineyards, and outdoor activities such as horseback riding and hiking through forest parks. Organized bike tours that take in the region’s farms and family-run wineries are most popular.The Basics
Wairarapa’s main town, Martinborough, is a firm fixture on the wine-and-foodie gourmet trail. Wellington locals flock here on weekends to drop in to the cellars of surrounding vineyards, known for top-quality pinot noir, riesling, and chardonnay. Quad-bike rides, ropes courses, kayaking, and bushwalks get the adrenaline flowing. The North Island’s third-largest lake, Lake Wairarapa is a popular spot for fishing and bird watching.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Winery tours and bicycle rentals typically last a full day.
- Private wine-tasting itineraries include the benefit of your own dedicated guide.
- Don’t forget sun or rain protection and appropriate footwear for the outdoors.
- Check with transport and tour operators for wheelchair access and activities suitable for visitors with limited mobility.
The Wairarapa region lies over Rimutaka Pass, 46 miles (75 kilometers) east of Wellington via state Highway 2. It's about a 1-hour drive to Featherston and 1.5 hours to Greytown or Martinborough. Trains run from Wellington to Featherston, with buses connecting on to Martinborough and Greytown (check train timetables). Most day trips from the capital city include hotel pickup and drop-off. When to Get There
The spring and summer months (November–April) are most ideal in terms of weather, with the warmest temperatures between January and February. Summer is also the best time for exploring coastal destinations such as Cape Palliser. Celebrations and country fairs abound during the autumn grape harvest, and rain is most likely to fall in September. Classic New Zealand Wine Trail
Combined with Hawke's Bay, Wellington, and Marlborough, the Wairarapa wine region is responsible for more than 80 percent of the country’s wine production. In addition to touring some of the 20 boutique wineries with tastings of award-winning wines, rental bikes and rickshaw tours are available for exploring country roads.