Coming from Wellington, you drive over the winding Remutaka Hill road. Halfway down there’s a corner where the whole vista of the Wairarapa opens up before you, bush-clad ranges to the west across flat plains to a rugged coast on the east.
A rural area with an off-the-beaten-track charm, Wairarapa, New Zealand, offers travellers a wide range of experiences. Head up to the Waiohine Gorge at the foot of the Tararuas and a swing bridge is your gateway to tramping tracks into the ranges. Head out to Cape Palliser on the coast and you’ll pass through the tiny fishing village of Ngawi where you’ll see a colourful array of old bulldozers and tractors parked on the beach.
Wairarapa is the only internationally recognised Dark Sky Reserve in the North Island and is the most accessible of the 21 protected Dark Sky Reserves in the world. At night, take a guided tour at Stonehenge Aotearoa to admire the purest dark sky. The next day carry on with an wine sampling experience from local vineyards dotted along the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.
Accommodation ranges from boutique hotels to homestay cottages. Having a car for transport works best; it’s a big area.