Daytripping to the Wairarapa

Only an hours drive north of Wellington lies the Wairarapa, a rural area with an off-the-beaten-track charm, offering some of the best experiences in New Zealand.

Wairarapa's wild coastline is full of adventures waiting to be explored: be captivated by a historic lighthouse, the North Island's largest fur seal colony, a quaint fishing village, and breathtaking rock formations, combined with stunning sea views as far as the eye can see.

A day trip or an overnight stay is the perfect complement to your Wellington stay.

Wairarapa is home to a variety of artisan producers and winemakers who draw inspiration from the lush landscapes that surround the region. Their award-winning food and beverages are just the thing to pack a picnic basket full of local delights.

Just an hour from Wellington you’ll reach the first stop after the Remutaka Hill, Featherston's popular cheese shop C'est Cheese. Owner Paul Broughton offers something for every set of taste buds: from cumin-flecked gouda to French-style blues. C'est Cheese also stocks New Zealand salamis and exquisite local olive oils, as well as fresh sourdough made by a local bakery.

Famous for their pinot noir, Martinborough has a large number of boutique vineyards and cellar doors offering wine tasting, delicious food and regular events. The area is flat and compact, and with an often temperate climate, is best explored by bike.

En-route to Cape Palliser, The Land Girl is a café full of country charm, just 20 minutes south of Martinborough. This former blacksmith's shop in the small settlement of Pirinoa focuses on great coffee and simple, yet delicious home-made food.

Enjoy the dramatically scenic final part of the journey, where the road clings to the edge of the coast, providing non-stop sea views of Palliser Bay. This area has a rich history of early Maori occupation, as well as being an important place in recent European history.

You'll find the cast-iron Cape Palliser lighthouse standing tall on the cliffs since 1897, it still shines to this day. Climb the 253 steps to see it up close, and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic sea views.

Roam rugged and isolated Ngawi, a quirky fishing village on Cape Palliser Road with more bulldozers per head of population than anywhere else in the world. Watch as these trusty old machines haul fishing boats in and out of the wild waves of the Cook Strait.

Cape Palliser is also home to the North Island's largest fur seal colony, and you’ll see them swimming and lounging around on the rocks all along the road. If you’re visiting between November and January, you might just spot some pups too.

Discover the Putangirua Pinnacles, some of the most amazing rock formations you will ever see, famed for their appearance in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. You have two options – an easily-graded bushwalk to a lookout above the Pinnacles, or a walk up the gently-sloping streambed to the base of the Pinnacles where you can marvel at the majestic natural wonder.

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