Contemporary art at Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art and History © Liz Light

Five fab things to do in Masterton

View the map


1. A park for everyone

Queen Elizabeth Park is an 81-hectare jewel in the middle of Masterton. There is something for everyone. For me it’s a serene and green morning walk, passing beneath a wide boulevard of old English trees, branches touching overhead, and along the top of the Waipoua River stopbank, on an informal lush, grassy path with glimpses of the river through the foliage. 

The band rotunda and the cricket oval – both still used and loved – nod to 140 years of English heritage, as does the pretty lake and gardens. 

For little ones, a miniature red train chuffs and puffs around the lake on weekends and, unbelievably, it costs $1 a ride. There is also a fantastic playground with a castle, pirate ship, slides, swings and numerous climbing structures. And, for bigger kids a skate park and skating rink.  

Masterton Park Liz Light

Queen Elizabeth Park, Masterton. © Liz Light

2. A hundred years of quality books

Hedleys Bookshop, opened in 1907 by William Hedley and still in the family, is a classic bookshop that specialises in exclusive new and rare second-hand books. It also offers a worldwide book search service to track down obscure titles. Hedleys  has a lot of Wairarapa titles and links with a specialist British publishing company that provides access to collectable books on the history of popular music. There are beautiful but limited editions about musicians we know and love such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and more. 

This unique shop offers terrific book browsing and buying for all ages. 

Masterton Bookshop Liz Light

Hedleys Bookshop, Masterton. © Liz Light

3. Good art

Sean Duffel is one of New Zealand’s best-known street artists and now a large Masterton wall has one of his intricate, colour-saturated murals. It depicts the beauty of New Zealand forest and the birds and other creatures that inhabit it; ruru, tūī, eels, tuatara, kākā and more have their place in the rich symmetrical weave of this flat forest.

Not far away Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, has a huge collection of work from Wairarapa artists as well as artists of national importance. The exhibitions keep changing and it’s always worth a look – and free entry, too. 

Masterton Mural Liz Light

Sean Duffel's street art mural in Masterton. © Liz Light

4. A woolly tale  

Masterton is the home of the Golden Shears, so sheep, sheep farming, shearing and wool are important. The Woolshed Museum, based in two woolsheds that have been trucked into the centre of the city, is all about the history of sheep farming and its contemporary importance. 

On Wednesdays, the Spinners and Weavers Club are in attendance so you can watch these age-old crafts in action. Exit through the gift shop which has an extensive range of locally made woollen products.   

5. Flicks and fine food

The Screening Room Cinema and Eatery has two boutique cinemas that specialise in indie and arthouse flicks. Relax in armchairs and enjoy movies via the latest sound and screening technology.

The adjoining eatery has a punchy menu based around small plates for sharing, local wines and dessert treats – which you can also take into the theatre.  

Explore more...

Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

Things to do while you're here

Find out more

Food and drink

South Wairarapa: cobblestones and charm

Greytown is so picture-perfect with its mantle of frothy spring blossoms, it’s like walking onto a well-dressed movie set. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Cape Palliser: dramatically scenic

When a wind whips up from Antarctica, the first bit of the North Island it hits is Cape Palliser. And like every other spot where land and sea come to serious blows, the cape is magical. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Castlepoint: a seaside adventure

Most of New Zealand’s special coastal spots are marked by lighthouses. Castlepoint, one of the wilder stretches of the North Island coast, is no exception.   Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Te Arapiki o Tāwhaki Walk

Experience stunning views and native bush on Te Arapiki o Tāwhaki at Pūkaha Mount Bruce. Read the story . . . 

AA Members save on selected accommodation with
AA Traveller

AA Members
Book now
Non Members
Book now