Wairarapa media Facts
Published: 07/11/2012 by Barb Hyde
Wairarapa Media Facts
Wairarapa’s Total Population: 38, 610
The Wairarapa is one of the longest-settled regions of New Zealand, and the southern coastline has the remnants of once extensive garden plots. European settlers established the first New Zealand sheep station on the plains south of Martinborough, and the townships of Greytown and Masterton were the first planned inland towns in the country. Lake Wairarapa, in the south of the region, is referred to as one of the eyes of Maui’s fish in Maori mythology while its surrounding land has a fascinating and complex history, all which is detailed under http://www.library.mstn.govt.nz/history/index.html.
Getting to the Wairarapa
The Wairarapa is just over an hour’s drive from the Wellington International Airport and inter-Island ferry connections. There is also a daily train service between Wellington and the Wairarapa towns of Featherston, Greytown, Carterton and Masterton while a bus operates between between the Featherston Railway Station and Martinborough.
Air New Zealand runs a direct service between Auckland and Masterton.
The Wairarapa is a region of big skies, wide valleys and characterful small towns. As you arrive over the Rimutaka Hill the Wairarapa valley opens up before you, fringed by mountains to the west and rugged coast to the east. The place Maori called “Land of Glistening Waters” offers a true escape. Wairarapa is one of New Zealand’s top food and wine destinations and is at the heart of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. The region is made up of five towns including: Martinborough, Featherston, Greytown, Carterton and Masterton.
Packed with colonial charm, Martinborough’s distinctively named streets (Cork, New York, Dublin, Kitchener are just some) are laid out in a Union Jack pattern – reflecting the loyalty of the town’s founder, Londonderry man, John Martin. Some of New Zealand’s best pinot noir comes from the town’s friendly family-owned vineyards.
Martinborough is a popular weekend destination for Wellingtonians, who enjoy the premium wines, vineyard cafes, boutique stores, quality accommodation, olive groves and award-winning restaurants. Guided wine tours or self guided cycling tours are available.
Featherston is home to the world’s only Fell Engine, and the gateway to the wild stretch of cliffs, rocks and water that is Palliser Bay. It’s one of the region’s highlights with an historic lighthouse, native fur seals and the Putangirua Pinnacles, which provided an eerie backdrop in Sir Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King movie.
Greytown is a Victorian country village with metropolitan style. Home to high end independent boutiques, art galleries, antique stores and cafes make it one of New Zealand’s premiere shopping destinations. A distinctive Greytown product is gourmet handmade chocolate from Schoc Chocolate. Also Imperial Productions - handmade lead soldiers.
Carterton is a hot spot for art and craft lovers and near Stonehenge Aotearoa, a modern, working version of England’s Stonehenge. It is also the gateway to the northern Wairarapa town’s of Gladstone, a wine producing area.
Masterton is the Wairarapa’s largest town. Home to Queen Elizabeth Park, The Wool Shed - the National Museum of Sheep and Shearing and Aratoi: Wairarapa Museum of Art & History. Masterton is also a great base to explore nearby Castlepoint, Wairarapa’s most spectacular beach. The road north offers rich pickings with Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, home to Manukura the first all-white kiwi chick to be hatched in captivity and the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka.
Wine & Food
The Wairarapa is recognised as a boutique food producer and wine tourism destination. It is central to the Classic New Zealand Wine Trial, a signposted 380km (240 mile) route. (www.classicwinetrail.co.nz ) and for the last two years has been included in the VISA Wellington On A Plate culinary festival. www.wellingtononaplate.com
Wairarapa’s food highlights include:
• Moise Cerson’s French Baker, Greytown
• Schoc Chocolate, Greytown (www.schoc.co.nz)
• Olivo olive oil (www.olivo.co.nz)
• Kingsmeade Sheep Milk Cheeses (www.kingsmeadecheese.co.nz
• Lavender’s Green citrus products (www.lavendersgreen.co.nz)
• Wendy Campbell’s French Bistro in Martinborough
• Bar Salute, Greytown. (www.salute.net.nz)
Martinborough is internationally renowned for its Pinot Noir and features over 25 vineyards – many within walking or cycling distance. Further up the valley in the wine growing areas of Gladstone, Opaki and Masterton around 16 wineries offer the same relaxed appeal. Several Wairarapa food producers offer short, interesting tours and tastings. Comprehensive full-day or half-day tours are available year round from: Zest Food Tours (www.zestfoodtours.co.nz) and Tranzit Martinborough Gourmet Wine tour (www.tranzittours.co.nz).
The Wairarapa’s wild and diverse landscape provides the perfect backdrop for those wanting to get back to nature. Scenic highlights include:
• Cape Palliser has the largest colony of native fur seals easily viewed from the roadside. The nearby Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve with its unique geological rock formations is an unusual half-day walk. The Cape Palliser lighthouse, with its red and white stripes, was recently voted one of 15 New Zealand sights that make the 100 top-10 lists of the world's must-sees by global travel guide publisher Lonely Planet.
• The Castlepoint Scenic Reserve, 45 minutes from Masterton, is home to unique native species. Visitors can enjoy the lighthouse board walk, Castle Rock track, soft white sand, lagoon and reef.
• Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, located 20 minutes north of Masterton, is conserving some of New Zealand’s most rare and endangered wildlife and is of nationwide significance. Pukaha is home to Manukura, New Zealand’s only white kiwi in captivity and features a new Kiwi House. The facility also includes a 50 seat theatre continuously screening three short films. (www.pukaha.org.nz)
• The Tararua Forest Park provides the people of Wellington, Wairarapa, Horowhenua and Manawatu an outstanding variety of tramping, hunting and walking opportunities. There are several access points from the Wairarapa including the main entrance to Mt Holdsworth.
• Several operators also offer multi-day, multi-night walking adventures over private farmland, through native bush and along previously inaccessible coastline.
Unique Attractions in the Wairarapa
• 10 minutes from Carterton, Stonehenge Aotearoa is a complete and working structure designed and built for its precise location. Built on the same scale as Stonehenge in England, visitors can explore the mysteries of our past and learn how early cultures, including New Zealand Maori, used the Sun, Moon and stars for life and survival. Stonehenge Aotearoa is often used for seasonal celebrations and festivals. (www.astronomynz.org.nz/stonehenge)
• The Vintage Aviator Ltd Collection - one of the largest collections of original and flying WW1 aircraft in the world. Located at Hood Aerodrome, Masterton, the Collection has WW1 Fighter Scouts, Bombers and Renaissance Aircraft as well as original BE 2 and Fe2b Bombers (the only flying examples in the world). Aircrafts take centre stage during the biennial Wings Over Wairarapa airshow (www.vintageaviator.co.nz)
• Drive north of Masterton to Mangatainoka, home of Tui HQ, a legendary Kiwi brewery. You can take a tour, enjoy a tasting and a browse through the museum and store (www.tui.co.nz)
Wairarapa hosts a growing number of events celebrating the region’s food and wine plus outdoor concerts and festivals:
• Wings Over Wairarapa airshow, held at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton, features rarely seen vintage aircraft from last century including original WWI and WWII aircraft as well as fantastic displays of contemporary aircraft. The 2013 show entitled ‘Honouring The Past, Celebrating The Future’ will be held from Friday 21 - Sunday 23 January. www.wings.org.nz
• Toast Martinborough is held on the third Sunday in November in Martinborough. Celebrating the release of the new vintage, Toast pairs each of the 12 participating vineyards with some of the finest restaurants from Wellington and Wairarapa and live music. Festival goers stroll easily between wineries or jump on free shuttle buses that circulate constantly.
• The Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival, held each March at the spectacular ‘Cliffs’ riverside reserve in Gladstone, showcases award winning Wairarapa wineries and high profile restaurants and local food producers. Its laid back atmosphere, stunning setting and memorable entertainment provides an opportunity for town and country to come together. www.wairarapawines.co.nz
• The annual Trust House Balloons Over Wairarapa attracts more than 20 hot air balloons from throughout New Zealand for four days of spectacular competitions and displays. Uncontrolled airspace and the absence of a major airport in the Wairarapa gives balloon pilots more freedom than at many other events.
• A unique country horse racing experience awaits visitors every year at the picturesque Tauherenikau Racecourse near Featherston. Visitors can picnic under Kahikatea and Totara trees and watch the racing each November, January and February.
Arts and Crafts
ARATOI: Wairarapa's Museum of Art and History, Masterton
Aratoi is a modern museum and art gallery in Masterton. Diverse collections of exhibitions showcase the region’s past, present and future. It also houses four significant art collections including The Rutherford Collection - one of the most significant in New Zealand www.aratoi.org.nz
In the last few years Carterton has established a thriving arts and crafts community. Several Carterton artists feature on Main ARTery, the Wairarapa Art Trail where visitors can meet practicing artists working in their own creative environment.
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