We've lived in the Wairarapa for five months now (with a roadie in the middle to explore the North Island). It was an unintentional move, brought on entirely by the COVID-19 lock down that was implemented in New Zealand in late March and continues to be carried through at varying levels.
We moved into the attached sleep-out flat of a local family who offered it to us while at the grocery store and were lucky enough to get to join in on some of the beautiful local adventures there were to be had in the surrounding area. Martinborough we visited on our own last year while we were still living in Wellington, but the rest are recent and reminiscent of one of the most unexpectedly wonderful times of our lives.
Here's six of the best things we got up to in the Wairarapa region:
1. Explore Martinborough
Martinborough is filled with delight - a sweet shoppe lined floor to ceiling with jars of candy, little boutique clothing shops, plenty of cafes and brunch spots, a hole-in-the-wall ice cream store with massive scoops, a huge park in the heart of town in which to lounge with a picnic, a quaint hotel with a bustling patio... there seems to be no end of lovely things to explore here.
2. Cross the Waiohine Gorge
Waiohine Gorge is known for its long-reaching and narrow swing bridge that hangs over the gorge, swinging lazily in the breeze - not for the faint of heart! Luckily, Nico and I are actually quite fond of the thrill of heights and we meandered our way back and forth across, spotting waterfalls and beautiful trees from high up in the air. The swing bridge is just a few minutes walk from the car park which is at the end of a winding gravel road.
3. Hike the Kiriwhakapapa Loop
We spent a delightful afternoon on the Kiriwhakapapa Loop (say that ten times fast!) underneath the redwoods growing tall and majestic. The loop trail is flat and easy to enjoy, with a slight elevation in one section. The trail connects with the longer Blue Range track.
4. Visit Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre
Pūkaha is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of endangered birds, with their ultimate goal to release these birds and increase their populations across New Zealand. Pūkaha is home the world's only white kiwi as well as tīeke (North Island saddleback), kākāriki (red-crowned parakeet), kōkako, kākā, titipounamu (rifleman), kārearea (New Zealand falcon) and the kererū (wood pigeon) among other beautiful birds. There's also a significant population of wild eels in the river!
5. Watch sunset at Mount Dick
Drive up to the top of Mount Dick on the very edge of the Tararua Forest Park at the end of Dalefield Road for a panoramic view stretching all across the Wairarapa offering a brilliant perspective of the area.
6. Hike the Circuit Track at Fensham Reserve
Fensham Reserve is a protected area, home to massive redwoods, lots of manuka trees and kowhai plants are in abundance. Many species of birds will call to you as walk past including, among others, the tui, kingfisher, pigeon and fantail. It's the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.