A lovely aspect of the Wairarapa is how easy it is to experience the special character of each of its unique towns.
From the largest town Masterton, full of family friendly activities to arty Carterton, great Greytown shopping, the wineries and vineyards of Martinborough & Gladstone and the historic railway town of Featherston which is the start point of the Rimutaka Cycle Trail, a 'Great Ride' on Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail, you'll find yourself barely a ten minute drive between each of them.
While you can reach Wairarapa from Auckland in the north (via Hawke's Bay or Manawatu), arriving into Masterton, most visitors take the 1 hour drive or train trip heading northeast out of Wellington.
As you come over the Rimutaka Hill on State Highway 2 from Wellington, you'll enter Featherston, home of the Fell Locomotive Museum, start of the Rimutaka Cycle Trail and gateway to the Wairarapa.
On your left will be the ever-present majesty of the Tararuas, a beautiful and imposing mountain range running for 80kms and home of many spectacular tramps. On your right is Lake Wairarapa, the wild Palliser Bay Coast, and the turn-off to the wine and food paradise that is Martinborough.
Continuing ten minutes along State Highway 2, you'll pass the green grounds of the Tauherenikau Racetrack, then reach Greytown, which offers pretty Victorian colonial architecture, chic cafes, restaurants and boutique shopping.
Another eight minutes takes you into Carterton, a unique blend of thriving arts and farming community with a delightful mix of galleries, scrumptious food and gorgeous gardens. To the south is Gladstone, another wonderland of vineyards and eateries, and Stonehenge Aotearoa.
Ten more minutes on the highway and you're in Masterton, the largest town in the Wairarapa with lots of shopping, restaurants, entertainment and accommodation.
Masterton's also the perfect base for trips to the glorious beaches of Castlepoint and Riversdale, superb scenery and tramping at Mount Holdsworth, visiting the white kiwi at Pukaha National Wildlife Centre or the mighty Tui Brewery.
Most Wairarapa towns are on State Highway 2 (to which the train parallel), or you can head along the back-roads for sweeping vistas and rolling farmlands. Traffic lights? Not needed in this beautiful part of Aotearoa.
If cycling's your passion, there are plenty of options for hiring (with or without a guide) and pedalling at your leisure between towns or vineyards along country roads.
However you get around, you'll love our mix of scenic beauty, friendly towns, quirky events and heavenly food & wine.