If the kids say "are we nearly there yet?" your answer will be "yep". A Wairarapa escape is quick to get to and jam-packed with fun. Just over an hour from Wellington and the Manawatu it's an easy choice. Come and play, get outdoors and make some cool new memories together here. Here's what a family escape to the Wairarapa could look like:
Some top outdoor activities to do with kids
- First up explore Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre on a family tour and wander through the bush to meet eels, kaka, tuatara, takahē and Manukura the white kiwi.
- Next stop is Queen Elizabeth Park, an awesome spot for kids in Masterton with a huge playground, flying fox, miniature train and pedal boats, mini-golf, and BMX and skate park.
- Get out on the water at Queen Elizabeth Park in a pedal boat, visit the deer park, or have a round of mini golf.
- Take a walk and check out all Queen Elizabeth Park's beautiful trees - some were planted more than 140 years ago!
- Pop over the road to The Wool Shed, a great place to learn about the shearing industry.
- Just along the road is Trust House Recreation Centre, full of indoor pools, a hydro-slide, river ride for lots of fun in the (warm) water!
- Head to Cobblestones Museum in Greytown and peek into the past at the historic village complete with schoolhouse, fire station, church, hospital, family home, interactive displays and much more.
- In the evening try Star Safari - a guided tour of Stonehenge Aotearoa at night, followed by stargazing with telescopes, weather permitting, from 7.30pm in the weekends.
- Challenge yourselves to an experience like no other at Borderlandz Paintball - a family run business who offer simple objective based paintball games in a fun, professional and safe atmosphere!
Take a farm tour or go horse riding
- Make the scenic drive to Palliser Ridge a working Sheep and Beef Station overlooking Cape Palliser who have opened their gates with fun, hands-on tours.
- Take a Farm Tour with Martinborough Manor. Gather the eggs, milk a cow, feed Charlie the kunekune pig... lots of fun experiences. Booking essential.
- Choose an easy and relaxing horse ride for beginners with Gladstone Horse Treks. Meander through bush and along a river, before crossing the river and heading home. Or one of the numerous track and trail options at Heavenly Horse Treks, situated in Martinborough along the stunning South Wairarapa coastline.
Try our family friendly walking trails
- Walk around Henley Lake in Masterton and surrounding 43 hectares of flat tracks through wetlands, and native plants with plenty of picnic spots in between. Listen for up to 72 different species of birdsong.
- Explore the Lansdowne Recreational Trail in Masterton, popular with walkers, cyclists, and runners.
- Take a short 1-2 hour loop walk through native bush and pine forest on a farm at Rewanui Forest Park just 20 minutes from Masterton.
- Experience some of the best mixed native forest in the Tararua Range on a 1-hour loop walk to Donnelly Flat picnic spot at Mt Holdsworth. Or see more tramps in the Tararua Ranges - there's a distance to suit everyone.
- Talk a walk in Waiohine Gorge, just out of Carterton. Kids will love walking across the long suspension bridge.
- See all our family friendly walking trails as well as catered and guided walks, town walks, mountain walks and costal walks.
Spend a day at the beach
- Let the kids run free on the beach at Riversdale or Castlepoint – both just 50 mins out of Masterton. Explore the rock pools, try your luck with a fishing rod, or run up to the lighthouse at Castepoint.
- Energy to spare? Walk the 162-metre-high Deliverance Cove track up to Castle Rock at Castlepoint - named by explorer Captain Cook in 1770.
- The scenic drive along the coast to Cape Palliser is unforgettable and their seal colony is the largest in the North Island. A must-do is to climb the 253 steps to the lighthouse for stunning views.
- Lord of the Rings fan? Put on your sturdy walking shoes and walk along the Paths of the Dead through the Putangirua Pinnacles. You will find incredible rock formations.
- Check out our many coastal areas where you can soak up nature with lots of things to do and see.
Feel like a bike ride?
- Get off road on the Greytown-Woodside Trail - a scenic 5km walking and cycling track connecting Greytown's quieter streets to Woodside station.
- Explore the Remutaka Rail Trail with its eerie tunnels and old railway ruins - there are ride lengths to suit everyone from easy day trips to overnight trips (you can also walk the trail!).
- See more ideas for bike rides.
Inside activities or if the weather isn’t playing ball
- Take in the latest exhibition at Aratoi - Wairarapa Museum of Art & History and watch local artists create inside colourful shipping containers at nearby ConArt Gallery & Studio.
- Try out the bowling, arcade games, bumper cars and more at MasterBowl with a family fun voucher.
- Take in the latest movies at The Screening Room or Regent 3 Cinema.
- Choose something from Hedleys Booksellers awesome kids' collection, or speciality children's bookstore Chicken and Frog in Featherston.
- Let the kids run wild on the bright new kids' playground at Copthorne Solway Park while you enjoy brunch, lunch or even just a coffee.
- The Pointon Collection in Masterton takes you into an early 1900's garage and workshop with vintage cars, motorcycles, old signs, equipment and tools to show your kids!
- Head north to Middleton Model Railway in Eketahuna and see one of the largest model railways in New Zealand in action.
- On your way back home through Featherston visit The Fell Museum which houses H199 - the only locomotive of its type in the world and Kahutara Taxidermy for an unusual collection of mounted birds and animals, including lions!
Try these scrummy family restaurants and cafés
- Fill the family up with amazing food at Lone Star Masterton or enjoy dinner at The Farriers Bar & Eatery.
- While you're in Masterton treat yourselves to a double scoop gelato from Ten O'clock Cookie Bakery Cafe.
- On the way home drop into The Clareville Bakery for brunch or a pack of Cronuts to finish your Wairarapa Escape.
- See more amazing food options in the Wairarapa here – there are too many to list them all!
Bring the family and stay the night
- Book one of the family rooms at Copthorne Solway Park- with its heated indoor pool and spa and outdoor pool and playground.
- Or check out other places to stay in the Wairarapa here.
School Holidays in the Wairarapa
Need some help entertaining the kids in the School Holidays? Take a look at what's on here.