Masterton - The Bustling Heart of the Wairarapa
The Wairarapa is a region of big skies, wide valleys and pretty, small towns. The place Maori called “Land of Glistening Waters” is made up of five towns: Martinborough, Featherston, Greytown, Carterton and Masterton.
Wairarapa is considered to be one of New Zealand’s top food and wine destinations and is at the heart of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. The region is at the very centre of one of NZ's Great Rides, the Rimutaka Cycle Trail.
With a population of just under 30,000 Masterton is the largest town in the Wairarapa region, and extremely family friendly. It is the main shopping and service centre for the region. In 2017 Masterton was crowned New Zealand's most Beautiful City.
Masterton is home to The Wool Shed - the National Museum of Sheep and Shearing and Aratoi: Wairarapa Museum of Art & History, Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, home to Manukura the first all-white kiwi and the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka.
Festivals and farmers' markets
The area is well-known for its fresh food and produce, with quite a number of farmers markets every weekend plus seasonal specialty and craft markets.
In addition it hosts some of the lower North Island's premier festivals including Toast Martinborough, the Gladstone Harvest Festival, the Country Music Festival, the Young Farmers A&P Show, the Glistening Waters storytelling festival, Kokomai Creative festival and the unique Scarecrow festival in October.
Throughout the year there are a huge range of events from the Warbirds airshow, the Balloon Festival and the Castlepoint beach races to name a few of the local's favorites.
Beaches, rivers, lakes and parks
Within 45 minutes drive there are the family-friendly beaches of Castlepoint, and Riversdale, the rugged coastlines of Ngawi and Tora and Sand the seafood and fishing at Sandy Bay and Matikona.
Across the valley there's the pristine forest and alpine tracks in the Mt Holdsworth regional park, and for avian fans the Mt Bruce native bird sanctuary is within easy reach.
The glistening waters in the region's name reflect the three main rivers that flow through the region- the Waingawa, Ruamahunga and the Ruahine. They are renowned for fishing and provide great recreation opportunities.
Freshest food, fabulous wine
Foodies love the Wairarapa with its profusion of boutique cafes, local restaurants and village deli's, to the top-end special occasion dining at some of the country's top lodges.
Some of the best wine in New Zealand comes from the region, with the Martinborough pinot noir and the Gladstone riesling scooping awards around the world.
Masterton itself is home to some incredible vineyards, with friendly local winemakers always happy to share a chat about the vintage.