From a unique cultural immersion tour to beautiful places to stay, quirky shops and, of course, food and wine, we've rounded some great things to do for a weekend in Wairarapa.
1. Go bush
Stop in at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre at Mount Bruce for an immersive ecological and cultural experience. Pūkaha is a 942ha native wildlife and conservation sanctuary – the largest remaining piece of native bush in Wairarapa and home to some of New Zealand’s rarest birds and an abundance of endemic flora. Here, you can join one of the centre’s new tours – Te Hīkoi o Pūkaha – where local guides explain Māori creation legends, tell the fascinating stories of Māui and how the land and life came to be.
The Pūkaha motto is Rongo te Mauri – listen and smell; be present; absorb the moment that you are in; experience the ‘mauri,’ the life force.
It’s a special experience to walk quietly, mindfully through the forest hearing the breeze rustle the leaves above, native birdsong, the crunch of your footsteps. On the tour, you’ll meet Pūkaha’s native residents – kererū and hihi, kākāriki and kōkako – who are intrigued by the guides playing their traditional Māori instruments. The tour finishes with refreshments – wickedly delicious fried bread and kawakawa tea, along with a side of waiata.
2. Curiouser and curiouser
If you’re in the market for a taxidermy duckling, a kitsch retro lamp, or perhaps a jar of local preserve, look no further than Mr Feathers Den. Giftware, homeware, paintings and panache, Mr Feathers is chocka-block with things that will surprise and delight.
3. Get a taste of the region
While famous for wine, there’s no shortage of delectable eating options in Wairarapa either. From the wild and wonderful flavours at boutique chocolatier Shoc in Greytown to the subtle pinot noir barrel-aged coffee at Neighbourhood roastery and café in Martinborough, there are artisan producers galore. Linger for a leisurely meal at Union Square – from breakfast through to dinner – in the historic Martinborough Hotel. And, if you’re getting tired of wine (perish the thought!) pop into Martinborough Brewery behind the square for a cleansing ale.
4. Stay somewhere special
Make your accommodation a highlight of your weekend, with a unique Wairarapa stay. In Martinborough, you can choose from the iconic Martinborough Hotel right in the centre of the village, or opt for one of the many gorgeous self-contained properties to maximise space and relaxation. The Orange Door is a cute cottage just down from the main square. Renovated from its roots as a tiny workers cottage in the 1890s to incorporate an impeccable kitchen and outdoor entertaining area set amongst a tranquil 4.5-acre olive grove, it’s a great spot to share a local pinot with friends or family.