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Wonderful Wairarapa: Waira-wrap Yourself around this Enchanting Region

Board Walk Castle Point Lighthouse
Fur Seal Pup
Kaka Bruce Sancturary
Martinborough Wineries
Toast Martinborough
Toast Martinboroug

Wonderful Wairarapa: Waira-wrap Yourself around this Enchanting Region

story by: House of Travel

The Wairarapa region of New Zealand's North Island is bursting with authentic Kiwi charm and character. Spectacular coastlines turn into rolling vineyards and swathes of lush green countryside, perforated along the way by captivating towns and villages.

Visitors to the Wairarapa region enjoy the more relaxed pace of life here, as they spend their days exploring the beautiful coastline and knocking on the many cellar doors throughout the region and sampling a long list of distinguished wines.

Getting to know the Wairarapa region
Wairarapa is only an hour from Wellington, so many Wairarapa adventures begin with a drive through the winding roads of the Rimutaka Ranges. The drive is a scenic one and you'll reach a turn around which the whole Wairarapa region opens up before your eyes in a breathtaking panoramic view.

The region has a well-earned reputation for great wine. If you're a vino fan then your first destination will be the town of Martinborough, the centre of the local wine industry. There are 30 local vineyards a short walk from the village. Pick up a map from the visitors centre and you can easily lose a few days strolling from vineyard to vineyard.

For an authentic wilderness experience take a trip to the Putangirua Pinnacles, one of the most intriguing rock formations in the whole of New Zealand. Film buffs may recognise the location from the Paths of the Dead sequence in the Lord of the Rings movies. The towering formations, known as 'hoohoos', are an example of badlands erosion and set a somewhat eerie scene. Take a backpack of food and head off for a few hours walking through this curious landscape.

The Wairarapa has a fascination WWI history. Some 2,500 Wairarapa men were enlisted and the region was home to three military training camps throughout the war years. History buffs can visit what remains of the camps, the largest of which is in the town of Featherton, where 60,000 soldiers, mounted riflemen and artillerymen received their training. You also have a choice of one- and two-day self-guided tours that take you to the significant locations of the Wairarapa's military history.

Families are well catered for throughout the area. From swimming in the sea at Castlepoint and Riversdale or canoeing on the Ruamahanga River, to spotting the rare white kiwi at Pukaha Mount Bruce there are plenty of family activities to get stuck into. Pick up a Wairarapa Family Fun Pass to get discounted entry for two adults and two children to four great Wairarapa attractions - Pukaha Mt Bruce, The Wool Shed, Genesis Energy Recreation Centre and Indoor Pool and Cafe Solway Golf Driving Range. 

Continue your journey northwards: Palmerston North and Whanganui
North of the Wairarapa are more iconic New Zealand destinations, so once you've had your fill of the Wairarapa's delights, why not extend your holiday with a trip to Palmerston North and Whanganui?

In Palmerston North get your fill of cultural experiences, with an abundance of museums, gardens, galleries and heritage collections. The New Zealand Rugby Museum and Te Manawa are two of the prime attractions. Slightly further afield, the walking tracks of the Manawatu Gorge, linking the Manawatu and Hawkes Bay regions through the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges are an ideal way to soak up some native bush and wildlife.

Meanwhile, the mighty Whanganui River is the focal attraction further north in the coastal town of Whanganui. The river begins high up on Mount Tongariro and winds its way through 300 kilometres of the Whanganui National Park, before joining the ocean in Whanganui. Jet boating, kayaking and white water rafting are the popular ways of getting to know the river and exploring the treasures of the national park.

Away from the river, Whanganui has a wealth of quality beaches, enticing walking trails, vibrant events and excellent restaurants that make it the perfect place to round out your tour of the bottom half of the North Island.

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