Exploring The Wairarapa

I have only been to the Wairarapa a couple of times to visit extended family and the Martinborough Fair and have loved it so much I have wanted to go back and explore more. I never intended to write about our weekend away but because we stayed in the most lovely little homestay I just had to give them a shout out.

One of things I love most about the Wairarapa are the Victorian buildings, pubs, cottages and stores, especially in Greytown and Martinborough. The second is that there are loads of second hand stores. From Woodville to Greytown you can stop in every town to find a dinky little secondhand store, many of these are curated so you don’t have to traul through loads of plastic or dirty clothes. It’s a an op shopers dream.

If you are planning on taking a trip for a long weekend, it’s best to book your accommodation ahead of time, even when there are no events. We ended up staying in Carterton and even though it wasn’t my first choice in towns I am glad we did, it’s actually really central to all the small towns, a 10 minute drive here or there and no backtracking. We booked in at the Casita Flora Holiday Home on Park Road. This cute little home has all the ingredients of a Hygge home, woollen blankets, a cosy wood burner for winter nights, comfortable couches and bean bag to snuggle up in and read a book or a magazine. The hosts Juliet and her husband have decorated their home in Latin American décor and outside in the courtyard are pot plants and pops of colourful artwork. Forget booking into a stark motel, this place has all the warmth of a home.

Just a few minutes walking and you will find Carterton’s eateries, each morning I would head over to Wild Oats Cafe to get our morning coffee, this cafe also had a large selection of cabinet food that looked delicious. Down the road are a number of takeaways, Chinese, Fish and Chips, a Turkish Restaurant and Balter which I will talk about soon. There was also a Family Friendly Pub across the square from Casita Flora however I can’t give that much of a thumbs up, sticky tables and pretty mediocure service let this place down big time. Carterton has had a couple of their eateries close down, so the need for exceptional service everywhere is really important.

The aim of our trip was to do a bit of sight seeing. When I was a SCUBA Dive Instructor in Palmerston North many moons ago, many of my students and fellow coleagues would head over to Ngawhi, Tora and White Rock beachs for dive trips. Even though I was in the Dive scene for a number of years I never ended up diving or even traveling to these beaches. I wish I had, on a calm day these beaches look like epic dive spots.

Ngawi is a cute fishing village, the beach out front is packed with rusty old bulldozers that fishermen use to launch their boats on the soft gravel and stones. Traveling on towards Cape Palliser you will spot many batches, these are the old school batches of yesteryear, small, retro, and some built in areas you would no longer get consent for, but I can only imagine all the treasures and memories they house inside.

Cape Paliser is home to a seal colony, these guys and girls are not afraid of humans and will bask in the sunshine along the roadside, I also didn’t realise how noisy they were either.

At the end of the road you come to the main attraction a candy cane painted lighthouse teetering on the rocks above you. If you don’t get vertigo you can walk up the steep 250 steps to the bottom of the lighthouse where you are rewarded with the most beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and Cook strait. I imagine you would see right across to the South Island on a clear day.

Our next stop was Tora Beach as Chris wanted to check the surf. Tora Beach is a step back in time, not even a hint of mobile reception and winding gravel roads will keep most from visting, but if you are up for it definately worth the drive.

Sunday evening saw us eating out at Cartertons most famous eatery Balter, a tapas resturant with Live Music on a Sunday evening. Everything about this place was just pure happiness. The food was delicious, we had scollops, breads, flat chips, pork belly and the spare ribs and it was all exceptional. They serve local wines and artisan beers. The vibe was post Covid happiness, live music, attentive staff and supportive locals who were ready to get the party started.

Take me back, we loved our stay. There is so much more to see and do, whether you are a couple, family or having a girls weekend away, Wairarapa caters for everyone.

Future trips I want to do in the Wairarapa

  • Fun girls weekend shopping and wine tasting
  • Family Book a Batch Stay exploring the walks, beaches and parks
  • A weekend visiting the Putangirua Pinnacles which was a filming site for the Lord of the Rings Return of the King movie.
  • Weekend surf trip with Chris, staying at Tora, beach combing, watching the surf and reading books.


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