Wairarapa is in the southeast of New Zealand's North Island, close to the vibrant capital city, Wellington, with its international airport and interisland ferry terminal. Wairarapa is bordered by the rugged Tararua Mountains to the west and the wild Pacific Ocean to the east, creating a wonderful sense of isolation.
Whether your passion is communing with nature and exciting outdoor activities or the more genteel pastimes of discovery shopping, relaxing at a rural retreat, or quaffing quality wines, Wairarapa will delight you.
The Wairarapa experience is all about getting off the beaten track. Be sure not to limit yourself to the main road or you'll miss many of the attractions.
The best-known wine growing area in Wairarapa is in and around Martinborough Wine Village. Visit some of its 20 wineries, including international award winners. There are also quality wineries near Gladstone and Masterton.
Wairarapa's small towns retain character from colonial times (see Historic Wairarapa). New Zealand's first inland country town is historic Greytown. There are plenty of artisans as well as gift and antique shops spread around the towns and countryside of Wairarapa. You'll find true New Zealand cottage industry and matching country prices.
From Palliser Bay in the south to Akitio in the north, the Wairarapa coast will let you get as close to nature as you dare. It is easy to see how so many ships have been wrecked in this wilderness. You'll find lighthouses, a breeding seal colony, coastal mountains and two well-serviced beach settlements. The fishing is superb and the surf is amongst the best in New Zealand.
Wide Open Spaces
With its large, uncrowded area and low population it is easy to understand why Wairarapa is renowned as a country escape. The region's uncrowded roads and excellent scenery make Wairarapa a great place to enjoy the simple pleasures of a country drive. See Wairarapa Transport.
Wairarapa has it all, rivers, lakes, mountains, bush and sea. It is the outdoor playground of New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. Take a sedate bush walk or tramp to a mountain peak. Local operators can take you rafting, jet boating, abseiling, caving, skydiving, horse trekking, canoeing, hot air ballooning, gliding, flying, tramping, diving with seals, four-wheel driving, and on scenic helicopter trips.
One of the best to experience the rural charm of Wairarapa is to stay in a rural homestay or cottage. You can live and dine with a Wairarapa family or keep to yourself in self-contained accommodation. There are over 100 to choose from!
Corporate Outings & Functions
Being central in New Zealand and within easy access of Wellington city, Wairarapa is becoming popular for conferences, small corporate retreats, outdoor team building, social group outings and country weddings. There's a venue for every budget.
Bush, Wildlife, Conservation
Wairarapa has three forest parks and Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, which provides a unique insight into New Zealand's native flora and fauna. Some of the world's most endangered bird species are bred here in captivity. A large seal colony is accessible year round.
Wairarapa has a reputation for garden visits and tours. They range from country homestead gardens to interesting cottage gardens in town. They are perfect for group outings, and some provide teas. The best times to visit are September to April, but some gardens are open all year.