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Summer in the Wairarapa: Your Guide

By India 7 Jan 2019 • 3 Comments

Don’t have the time/funds/energy for a massive summer holiday away from Wellington this year? Not a problem. The beautiful Wairarapa is just an hour’s drive away, making it the perfect destination for a day trip or a weekend minibreak.

Martinborough Fair
Martinborough Fair

Every year, thousands of punters attend the Martinborough Fair, an event so good they hold it twice. On 2 February and 2 March, Martinborough Square will be lined with stalls selling gorgeous New Zealand-made crafts and clothing, plus there’ll be food, live music and excellent people-watching.

For a more low-key but equally charming experience, check out the Greytown Country Market, held on the third Sunday of every month at Stella Bull Park. Clever local foodies are on hand peddling cheese, preserves, fresh produce, honey, eggs and more, and vintage shoppers will delight in finding treasures among the bric-a-brac stalls.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any quainter, there’s this: Lavender Abbey, a picturesque seven-acre property in Carterton where they grow thousands of French ‘Grosso’ lavender plants, has Pick Your Own Lavender days on 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 January. You can pick a bunch to take home for $5, and there’ll also be lovely lavender products for sale made by property owners Jan and Stuart Abernethy.

Wings Over Wairarapa

A day at the races seems like a pretty great way to kick off 2019, don’t you think? Pack a picnic and head out to Featherston on 2 January for the Interislander Summer Festival – Tauherenikau Races, a full day of live music, kids’ entertainment and, of course, exhilarating action on the racecourse.

On 9 February, the Hurricanes will take on the Blues in the Battle at the Brewery, a special pre-season game at the iconic Tui headquarters in Mangatainoka. That’s right, beer and rugby. Rugby and beer. All I can say is get your tickets fast – they will sell out.   

Wings Over Wairarapa Air Festival is celebrating its 20th year in 2019, so it will be one to remember. From 22 to 24 February, the skies above Hood Aerodrome in Masterton will be home to some spectacular air displays, with a highlight being the pyrotechnic-filled night show on the Saturday.

Marlon Williams
Marlon Williams

This summer, it’s all about country, beginning with the Wairarapa Country Music Festival, from 11 to 13 January, at Featherston’s Tauherenikau Racecourse. The headliners are Bevan Gardiner, who’s known for his world-class John Denver tribute act, and fiddle-player extraordinaire Marian Burns. Twinset, Joy Adams, George and Jocelyn Tuahine and Shane Harvey will also take the stage during the three-day event.

On second thoughts, I’m not sure calling Marlon Williams “country” is the done thing anymore – he’s well and truly transcended the genre, especially with this year’s acclaimed album Make Way For Love. Either way, the Silver Scroll winner’s performance on 24 February at Luna Estate winery in Martinborough will be something special. Don’t miss it.

Golden Shears
Golden Shears

Fast-paced cosmopolitan life is all very well, but nothing – I mean nothing – says New Zealand like an A&P show. Showjumping? Fairground food? Adorable kiddie rides? Sweet as. The Masterton A&P Show will deliver all of the above and more on 16 February at Solway Showgrounds.

For even more intense Kiwiana, check out the three-day Golden Shears competition, running from 28 February to 2 March at Masterton War Memorial Stadium. Hundreds of the world’s top shearers and wool-handlers will compete for prizes, and there’ll be live entertainment to keep the good times rolling in between events.

The Wine Bank
The Wine Bank

Martinborough has long been a Mecca for grape enthusiasts. Heading over the Remutakas for a tour of the local wineries is always fun, but why not try something a bit different next time? The Wine Bank is a tasting centre that’s just opened in the beautiful old Bank of New Zealand Building in Martinborough Square. It’s a bit of a one-stop shop, showcasing more than 60 local wines, but what’s even cooler is its innovative approach to tasting.

The luxurious space is fitted out with special high-tech wine-dispensing machines that are self-service, so you can have a taste – or a whole glass – at your leisure while relaxing in a comfy armchair and enjoying one of the Wine Bank’s tasting platters. What better way to cap off your Wairarapa summer getaway?

Add your comment

  • Annie on 10 Jan 2019

    Masterton A&P is a family friendly event...affordable gates sales and FREE entertainment for the kids... all set in beautiful Solway Park ...picnic on the grass under our beautiful plane trees and soak up the atmosphere. Catch the train service from Wellington and hop off at Solway Station onto a Tranzit bus that will deliver you to the show and back to the train station for a gold coin donation!

  • Cheryl on 10 Jan 2019

    Cruise Martinborough has now become a highlight in the Wairarapa calendar with those great muscle cars, drive-in movies and retro caravans which display in the Martinborough Square over 24th to 27th January and the other 'activity' driven events is the HuriHuri Wairarapa Summer of Cycling which includes the Pedal for Parkinson fundraiser. Activities for all the family and of course amazing to watch http://www.hurihuri.co.nz/

  • Cheryl on 10 Jan 2019

    Check out the Gladstonebury event being held at the Gladstone Vineyard in Carterton on Sunday 20th January https://www.facebook.com/gladstonebury/ Tickets available through eventfinda. Wairarapa Balloon Festival is on this year with balloon rides being able to be booked 18th to 22nd April. Stonehenge Aotearoa is putting on their annual Stardate event which includes some truly fabulous speakers and of course stargazing opportunities in the Wairarapa skies.

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