THE FESTIVE SPIRIT SHINES BRIGHT IN WAIRARAPA THIS WINTER
Day and night fun awaits families coming to Wairarapa these July school holidays; from adrenalin-charged excitement to leisurely paced thrills. With so much to see, do and experience the kids will be fizzing, and there’s plenty for parents too, because synonymous with the region is its world class food and wine. Wherever you might be, come on over. The Wairarapa is a short drive from Wellington (over the spectacular Remutaka Hill) and close to Palmerston North and Hawke’s Bay.
LIGHTS & LIVE MUSIC
The bright lights of Greytown will wow and amaze the kids during the month-long Festival of Christmas, from July. Hugely popular in the last two years, this year the festival’s theme is ‘gingerbread’, and it’s guaranteed to get your taste buds going. Greytown’s Main Street will be glowing with sparkly lights and world-class projections on historic buildings every evening, and PowerCo will be lighting up the European Style Night Markets every Friday and Saturday, making it the perfect place for a bite to eat and a spot of shopping as you keep warm by the outdoor heaters and enjoy live music. Free family fun includes The Great Gingerbread Hunt – make your way around the streets of Greytown in search of the near-extinct, brightly-lit eight-foot gingerbread men. Ride the fire engine from the Town Hall or amble along to Cobblestones Museum, where family festival events are on each Saturday in July. There will also be old-fashioned games: stilts, hobby horses, quoits, and hula hoops on the lawn.
From workshops, parties, and a pop-up Gin & Spice Bar, through to cocktails and comedy, Carols by Candlelight and the Great Gingerbread Bake Off, there’s something for everyone. And mums, let’s not forget that Greytown has some fabulous shopping opportunities too.
Make sure that you purchase tickets and book accommodation soon, many of last year’s events sold out.
Visit greytownvillage.com for the full programme and ticket information.
WHEELS & THRILLS
Masterton’s new multi-million dollar skatepark redevelopment is a must-do destination for all youngsters. The new facility builds on some of the old aspects of the original skatepark to create a new user experience featuring all of the traditional bells and whistles, plus much more!
The finished product is a skatepark wonderland that caters for all levels of users – from kids stepping onto a scooter for the first time to seasoned skateboarders.
Located in central Masterton, the skatepark is on the edge of the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park and surrounding facilities: one of the best children’s playgrounds in New Zealand; a miniature train complex that has national appeal; pedal boats and an impressive arboretum. Across the iconic swing bridge over the Waipoua River is also a BMX track.
After going wild in the park, cool off in the “lazy-river” pools, directly opposite the park. For a shot of culture check out Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art & History, the Wool Shed and ConART, a walk-through working arts precinct and galleries. If there is any energy left in the legs, just around the corner is the Master Bowl where you can choose from ten-pin bowling, bumper cars and arcade games.
Recognised as New Zealand’s number one mainland indigenous wildlife sanctuary, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre is home to some of Aotearoa’s most rare and endangered wildlife. Daily talks, bird and eel feeding and a “weta motel” lets the kids get up close with nature, while easy-to-walk trails weave through the lush native forest. Self-guide or take a tour with an expert who will help you spot the wildlife and share their passion for the ngahere (forest). pukaha.org.nz
HEAD TO THE COAST
Wairarapa boasts an extraordinary coast. Brace yourself for jaw-dropping natural scenery at Castlepoint, a 50-minute drive east of Masterton. The iconic lighthouse, jagged limestone reef, golden sand beach and the imposing Castle Rock is spellbinding and will draw you to your phone for the ultimate Instagram selfie. On the south coast, the quirky fishing village of Ngawi has more tractors per head of population than anywhere else in the world. Just an hour from Martinborough, on the way stop off at the Putangirua Pinnacles, which are amazing rock formations that inspired filmmaker Peter Jackson during the shooting of “The Return of the King”. Past Ngawi there is a large fur seal colony and the magnificent cast-iron Cape Palliser lighthouse.