Masterton, a 90-minute drive from Wellington and a three-hour drive from Napier, is one of five characterful towns that make up the Wairarapa region. Situated at the head of the Wairarapa valley
it is the region’s largest town, and many would say one of the most attractive, winning the New Zealand’s Most Beautiful City Award in 2017. It’s a vibrant, family friendly place and home to a number of attractions and a terrific base to explore the spectacular Wairarapa coast as well as the nearby national wildlife centre, Pukaha. At the heart of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, Masterton is also the gateway to the wine growing regions of Opaki, Gladstone and Martinborough and the Tararua Forest Park, an outstanding area full of tramping, hunting and walking opportunities.
Masterton offers a wide variety of accommodation which ranges from 5 Star hotels to motels and charming B&Bs, many of which are in historic villas that have been sensitively restored. For free spirited motorhomers Mawley Holiday Park is a fantastic facility with self-contained units, cabins, powered and unpowered sites. In addition, a number of POP (Park Over Properties) sites cater to the increased demand for Motorhomes and Campervans.
Masterton has loads of great dining and eating options, many of which celebrate seasonal local produce and offer new twists on classic country fare. There are also two movie theatres in town including the purpose-built boutique cinema, The Screening Room in the Kuripuni Shopping Village at the south end of the CBD.
Queen Elizabeth Park: Explore beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park in the centre of town with its magnificent collection of mature trees, miniature railway, Kids Own Playground, paddle boats, flying fox, mini golf, bike hire and the skate park. Don’t forget to take a stroll over the swing bridge to the Deer Park.
Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History is home to the stories of the Wairarapa, taonga Maori and regularly hosts exhibitions of national significance. Located in the heart of town, it is located next to the colourful CONart, an exciting interactive gallery and art studio space celebrating local artists.
The Wool Shed has the authentic smell of a real woolshed - not surprising when you learn it began life in the 19th century as two real working sheds in the north of the valley. The Wool Shed offers visitors a realistic look into an important part of New Zealand’s pioneering history tracing sheep farming in New Zealand and offering a taste of what a shearer’s life in the 19th and 20th centuries would’ve been like.
Henley Lake is a popular spot for walkers, runners and cyclists. The park covers 43 hectares adjacent to the Ruamahanga and Waipoua Rivers while the lake itself covers 11 hectares. There are over 72 different species of birds here and the viewing tower in the wetlands area gives you a unique perspective over the area.
Masterton Recreational Trails: A winding river, limestone paths and pretty English trees can be seen when one follows the Masterton District Council’s Recreation Trail network. The shared use path for walkers and cyclists is accessible from the centre of town and makes for a convenient option for locals to walk or cycle during their lunch break or for visitors to cycle from the railway station into town the scenic way.
Golf: Masterton is home to two golf courses and the popular 10 bay golf driving range at the Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park. The Masterton Golf Course sits high on a hill in Lansdowne with views across the town to the Tararua Ranges. The 18-hole, par 71 course is home to New Zealand golfing legend Sir Bob Charles (KNZM CBE) while the Mahunga Golf Course is a flat, easy walking 18-hole course on two levels.
The Trust House Recreation Centre has a 25m swimming pool, kids swimming pool and “lazy-river”, a hydro-slide and spa pool as well as a gymnasium and indoor stadium.
The Masterton Motorplex Drag Racing has taken petrol head heaven to a new level. Every year the Motorplex hosts national competitions attracting visitors from all over the country.
Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre: Gain a great understanding of conservation at Pukaha, which is home to some of New Zealand’s most rare and endangered wildlife including white Kiwi Manukura. Daily talks and bird and eel feeds allow visitors to get up close with nature, while easy-to-walk trails weave through lush native forest. Te H?koi o P?kaha is a must-do, a two guided cultural tour hosted by Rangit?ne on a walk about wildlife, trees and traditional stories of the Tangata Whenua (people of the land). www.pukaha.org.nz
The Alpaca Place offers visitors a wonderful interactive animal experience. Here visitors can take a tour and discover what makes these gorgeous animals tick and learn the local connection to their arrival in NZ.
Rewanui Forest Park: Just 15 minutes-drive east from Masterton, on the Masterton-Castlepoint Road, the 334-hectare forest park is one of the best examples of lowland forest in the Wellington region. There are three walking tracks in the forest park, ranging from approximately 45 minutes to a two-hour round trip. A large parking area at the entrance is also ideal for motorhomes and campervans.
Castlepoint Beach & Lighthouse: Spectacular Castlepoint, just 50 minutes from Masterton, has some of New Zealand’s most jaw-dropping natural scenery including a limestone reef, imposing Castle Rock and lagoon and golden sand beach. To top it off, there is an elegant, white lighthouse which has guarded over this coastline for more than 100 years. Each summer – favourable beach conditions permitting – Castlepoint hosts its annual beach horse races, which is a unique family day out with the emphasis on entertainment and picnicking. A short drive away is the Castlepoint Golf Club.
Riversdale Beach is a perfect Wairarapa coastal retreat 50 minutes from Masterton. The beach is great for swimming with a Surf Life Saving Club often on duty.
Every year Masterton hosts the Golden Shears, the world's premier sheep shearing and woolhandling championship, while aviation enthusiasts are catered for every two years thanks to the spectacular Wings Over Wairarapa air show at Hood Aerodrome. Wings Over Wairarapa will next be held in 2021.
Easter time see’s Masterton’s skies fill with colourful hot air balloons with the Wairarapa Balloon Festival while the region wide Kokomai: Creative Festival, which attracts top national and international artistic acts, has many events staged in Masterton. In addition, literary fans welcome the biennial Yarns in Barns: Festival of Reading, a 10-day celebration of books, authors and poets organised by landmark local bookstore, Hedleys.
Masterton District Council | Ph: 06 370 6300 | 161 Queen Street, Masterton - www.mstn.govt.nz