Drive over the Rimutaka Hill from Wellington and you enter a different world as the Wairarapa Valley opens up before you. This is still ‘Capital Country’ but without the stress. Here you can enjoy a slower pace – a happy blend of latté and lifestyle, wine and wilderness.

Masterton is the tourist hub and commercial heart of the Wairarapa region, although this is not obvious as you drive through its quiet, unhurried streets. The Wairarapa promotes itself as New Zealand’s least visited region because ‘It’s a World Away.’ It has a distinct feeling of isolation and a colourful Maori heritage. The legendry hero, Maui, pulled the great fish (North Island) out of the sea from his sturdy boat (South Island.) Palliser Bay at the southern extremity of the Wairarapa, is the mouth of Maui’s fish and Lake Wairarapa is its shimmering eye. Archaeological sites in the bay indicate Maori occupation as far back in 1000 AD.

Europeans came on the scene in 1844 when a mob of sheep was driven around the coast from Wellington to set up New Zealand’s first sheep station. Joseph Masters later established Masterton as a rural service centre. Today there is a string of service towns along State Highway 2, attending to the material needs of eight million sheep and their hardworking owners.

Bus Pass New Zealand

Rich alluvial floodplains reach north and south of Masterton to merge with rich grasslands and rolling hills white-flecked with grazing sheep. Coastal mountain ridges and the towering Tararua Range are thickly wooded with rainforest carrying feral pigs and deer and the untamed coast has fruitful fishing grounds. For colonial settlers intent on ‘living off the land,’ this was truly Nirvana in the South Pacific.

These days the ‘immigrants’ come at weekends as ‘day visitors.’ Capital city residents stream over the hill and explore the fascinating array of country escapes on the backblocks roads, or visit Masterton, Greytown, Carterton, Featherston and Martinborough. Each town has its own unique appeal and special attractions. Nothing draws the smart capital city set more than the plump grapes that ripen on southern Wairarapa’s sunny slopes. Both Masterton and Martinborough are towns with grape expectations – numerous vineyards offer cellar-door sales, free sampling and gourmet dining experiences. The Wairarapa Wine & Food Festival in February attracts thousands of visitors. The whole world seems to descend on Masterton in March each year for the International Golden Shears sheep-shearing competition, the pinnacle of achievement for the world’s top shearers. The annual Balloon Fiesta is another popular attraction. Accommodation facilities are excellent with a full range of hotels, motels, bed and breakfast guesthouses and holiday parks.

Masterton is a perfect rural retreat in heartland New Zealand – archetypal sheep country where hospitality is genuine and people always take the time to talk to strangers.

By | 2016-11-26T18:59:13+00:00 November 28th, 2007|Masterton|0 Comments

About the Author:

Danny de Hek
Like most people, I have many passions, goals and dreams. As a self made business professional, my focus is helping my clients, associates and friends, build, strengthen and maintain their success. It would be fair to say I am in the full time business of building relationships and feel my purpose and skill is connecting the right people with the right people. My professional work tends to dominate my personal life, to the horror of my partner and business mentor. They both fully support me yet give me the hard truths when I need to hear this. I am always investing in my personal development to have a fulfilled work/life balance. I enjoy Target Shooting, Hiking & Mountain Biking to clear the brain and to take the guilt away when indulging at a quirky cafe for a cooked breakfast or brunch. My passion for travelling has seen me experience the world on many occasions, my next adventure will be doing the Tibet Rail Journey on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway from Lhasa to Golmud as long as they have Wi-Fi aboard ;-) I have many goals I still wish to achieve but am pretty chuffed that I have accomplished so many of these already.

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