Essential Wairarapa must-dos

For those seeking a quintessentially kiwi experience, it is difficult to resist the fantastic food and wine, wildlife and unique sights of the Wairarapa.

Although known as 'The Heart of New Zealand's Classic Wine Trail', the Wairarapa is renowned for much more than just gorgeous vineyards, olive groves and fine wines. The region is also host to world-class dining experiences - a myriad of tasteful gourmet restaurants and artisanal foods are available to suit every taste. The Wildlife Sanctuary at Pukaha Mt Bruce exhibits some of New Zealand's rarest native fauna and nearby, travellers can visit the spectacular southernmost tip of the North Island. Adding further appeal are the fantastic gardens and unique cultural sights found throughout the Wairarapa District.

Here are just a few of the highlights for those seeking the very best Wairarapa experience:

Martinborough, a Mecca for lovers of food and wine

Home to many immaculate vineyards, Martinborough is famous for its truly superb Pinot Noir. Be sure to visit the Murdoch James Vineyard for the mandatory pleasure of tasting and sit down to lunch in their delicious restaurant. Pristine olive groves and their delightful products are common here and artisanal foods are plentiful. Stop by at Shoc Chocolate Shop if you have a sweet tooth and high standards. Many pleasurable evenings can be spent enjoying the special culinary experiences in and around Martinborough.

Meet the wildlife

Nearby and worth a special mention for those seeking a glimpse of some rare native critters is the Pukaha Mt Bruce Wildlife Sanctuary. Visitors are privileged to view special New Zealand birds including kiwi, kaka, kokako, takahe and our prehistoric lizard - the Tuatara. The spectacular scenery and thriving marine life of Cape Palliser is another sight not to be missed. In the 19th century this wild stretch of water claimed no less than 20 ships and the Cape Palliser Lighthouse and it's local seal colony mark the southernmost extent of the North Island.

Fabulous gardens and unique sights

On the road between Grafton and Carterton is the magical Awaiti Gardens. Hidden from plain sight are six acres of fabulous landscaped gardens. Well considered plantings showcase a significant collection of trees and shrubs, treating guests to a vibrant show all year round. Marvel at the rich hues of maples in autumn and winter or the immense springtime blooms of Azaleas, Daffidols and Camelias. Flowering Rhododendrons with their bright trusses are always a favourite. In summer the Roses, perennials and water lilies are absolutely delightful. For another unique experience travel a short distance to Stonehenge, the New Zealand Astrological Societies full scale adaptation of the original. Built combining the most up to date scientific knowledge with ancient understandings, this fascinating monument is a must see.

MoaTrek’s Wairarapa Wandering small group tour showcases the very best of this region. You’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch and wine tasting at Murdoch James Vineyard as well as dine in some of Martinborough’s most delicious restaurants. A visit to Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Sanctuary is a highlight, as is lunch with the passionate creators of Awaiti Gardens. Find out more on our website, or contact us directly.