WAIRARAPA + HUTT VALLEY
🚗 self-drive itinerary
🛏️ minimum 2 night stay recommended
🍽️ dining suggestions offered
📅 visit any time of year
Essentially rural with off-the-beaten-track charm, the Wairarapa region of New Zealand is tucked away in the south-east corner of the North Island, at the foot of the rugged Tararua Range. Travel to the region Maori called 'Land of Glistening Waters'. In contrast, the Hutt Valley offers insight into New Zealand's first settlers, the chance to relax on beaches and at seaside village cafés and explore over 160km of tracks and trails.
Highlights can include:
- Castlepoint is a spectacular stretch of coastline with its reef lagoon, lighthouse and Castle Rock 📸
- Greytown Village has interesting specialty stores, boutiques, cafés and restaurants and a country feel with metropolitan style 🛍️
- Martinborough Wine Tours showcase standout Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, as well as stylish Chardonnay and Syrah 🍷
- a collection of stories of the land and people are exhibited at the picturesque Petone Settlers Museum 🔎
- family fun is on the agenda when you visit one of the best kids playgrounds in NZ Queen Elizabeth Parkin Masterton 👪
- venture into native forest by walking across the swing bridge at Waiohine Gorge, the southern entrance to walks in Tararua Forest Park 👟
- interact with native and exotic wildlife in a beautiful natural environment at Staglands Wildlife Reserve 🐾👪
- an easy flat ride Pencarrow Trail leads to lakes and a lighthouse, with stunning views across to the South Island 🚴
- Pukaha Mount Bruce promises wildlife encounters with cheeky kaka, giant eels and your chance to meet the rare white Kiwi, Manukura 🐾
- see the beauty of Patuna Chasm, a limestone gorge you can walk and wade through while experiencing fossils, ferns, stalactites, waterfalls, eels and wildlife 📸👟
- meet friendly alpaca, learn their stories and interact with them on an insightful farm tour at The Alpaca Place 🦙
- C'est Cheese is the place to taste, find and indulge in an impressive selection of unique NZ cheeses including locally made award winners 🧀
- walk up a streambed until you find the Putangirua Pinnacles towering overhead - the 'badlands erosion' is a spectacular landscape, especially popular with fans of the Lord of the Rings films 👟🎥
- Rivendell in Kaitoke Regional Park also has Lord of the Rings films fame - enjoy pristine rainforest and crystal clear rivers with light filtering through ancient trees inspiring magical elvish tranquility 🎥
- The Dowse Art Museum is an ever changing art gallery showcasing art, design, jewellery, craft, sculpture and photography 🖼️
- kayak or SUP at beautiful Days Bay and enjoy some real fruit ice cream and frozen yoghurt afterwards at The Boatshed 🛶
- climb to the lighthouse at Cape Palliser for great views and take in the quirky settlement and rugged retreat of Ngawi with more tractors per head of population than anywhere else 📸👟🚜
- Stonehenge Aotearoa is a full-scale stone circle working adaptation of the original used to unlock the mysteries of the earth and sky 🌌
- heritage-listed Jackson Street, Petone is well known for its galleries, cafés, restaurants and unique shopping - perfect for gourmet foodies and savvy shoppers 🛍️
- East Harbour Regional Park’s sheltered valleys and sweeping bays offer beautiful bush and exhilarating views 📸👟
- the Remutaka Cycle Trail winds through the bush-clad Remutaka Ranges passes through tunnels to the Wairarapa Valley and skirting around the wild southern coast 🚴
AT A GLANCE
📍 # of Visitors 3.0
🐚 Beaches 5.5
🌦️ Chance of Rain 3.0
👨👩👦👦 Family Fun 4.0
🛒 Shopping 6.5
🍽️ Food + Wine 4.5
🏳️🌈 LGBTQI+ friendly 👍
Note: the highest possible score is an 8.0
🎥video courtesy of 100% Pure New Zealand on YouTube
WAIRARAPA + HUTT VALLEY
Sit back and relax. We've planned it all for you.
Day 1 : Arrive in the Wairarapa + Hutt Valley
You'll travel to this region by car, coach, train or by flying into nearby Wellington Airport. Upon arrival you'll check in to your accommodation, settle in and get acquainted with your surroundings for the next 2 nights.
This afternoon you can walk down Jackson Street, Petone a street that has something for everyone and even as you stroll down it, you get a glimpse of what typical Kiwi life is like. Follow this up, with a walk high above Wellington Harbour in the East Harbour Regional Park on an easy loop that takes in Point Howard and Lowry Bay.
If you're a wine lover, you might prefer to get started with a wine tour in Martinborough and taste a selection of some of the finest wines in the world. Follow this up with a delicious meal at a local vineyard restaurant, or boutique restaurant in this quaint village with some great options for your tastebuds on offer.
Then after dark, see what's screening at Circus Cinema and watch a blockbuster film with wine in hand.
Day 2 : stunning coastlines + lighthouses
You could easily spend a few days exploring different corners of the Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley - each day offering something completely unique.
A photogenic option is the visit to Castlepoint where you can marvel at Castle Rock from the lighthouse, then walk up Castle Rock and realise just how small the lighthouse is in comparison. The coastline here will have you reaching for your camera often, so be sure to take a few moments to just take a breath, and enjoy the experience.
An alternative lighthouse to visit is located at the southernmost tip of the North Island at Cape Palliser, which has impressive coastal views of its own. You can easily combine this visit with a stop in the seaside village of Ngawi with its trusty old tractors that haul fishing boats in and out of the wild waves, and also with the nearby seal colony. The Putangirua Pinnacles are also close by and combine for a full day adventure, perhaps detouring on the way back to your accommodation via Lake Ferry for some well earned, and very fresh fish and chips.
Another great idea is to advventure inland in the Tararua Forest Park at Waiohine Gorge where the swing bridge leads to short hikes and walks and picnic areas near the river; or opt instead to see the extraordinary Patuna Chasm and walk (sometimes wade) through the river that's carved out remarkable limestone cliffs in the midst of native trees.
After your days events, we've arranged for you to delight in dinner and celebrate your last night in this region at one of our favourite restaurants in the area.
Day 3 : Depart the Wairarapa + Hutt Valley
Before you leave, Lord of the Rings fans will likely want to pay a visit to Rivendell in Kaitoke Regional Park, where fans can relive the site where Arwen and Aragorn kissed in Peter Jackson's film trilogy. Alternatively, a quick stop at Featherston's C'est Cheese will delight any cheesemongers, and Greytown Village will delight anyone that passes through, even if you only end up window shopping. If you're heading north, pay a visit to Pukaha Mount Bruce to see the rare, and easy to see, white kiwi. She lights up easier for those less patient to wait for their eyes to adjust to the nocturnal houses they're housed in. We'll let you know the best way to get from this region to the next part of your New Zealand trip, wherever you want that to be.