Just a short drive from Wellington over the spectacular Remutaka Hill, and super-close to Hawke’s Bay and Palmerston North….
Masterton is a vibrant, family-friendly place and a terrific base to explore the spectacular Wairarapa coast, as well as the nearby National Wildlife Centre, Pūkaha. Heaps of accommodation options to fit all budgets and great places to eat combine to make Masterton an excellent destination for a family getaway.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Smack-bang in the middle of Masterton, this is one of the best family parks in the country. At its entrance is the Kids Own Playground, with a pirate ship, castle, and flying fox. In behind a miniature train hugs the water’s edge as it passes around the island track; feed the ducks or get in a pedal boat; play mini golf, try the BMX and skate park, or take a stroll over the swing bridge to the Deer Park.
Rec Centre Pools
After going wild in the park cool off in the “lazy-river” pools in the Trust House Recreation Centre, directly opposite. For daredevils, try the hydro-slide!
Arts Precinct & Wool Shed
For a shot of culture check out Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art & History, and ConART, a walk-through working arts precinct and galleries. Drop into the Wool Shed, a 19th century working shed and a window into a fascinating slice of NZ’s farming history.
If there is any energy left in those legs, just around the corner is Master Bowl, where you can choose from ten-pin bowling, bumper cars, and arcade games.
Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre
Daily talks, bird and eel feedings, and a “weta motel” let the kids really get up close with nature, while easy-to-walk trails weave through lush native forest.
Just 50 minutes from Masterton you’ll see some of New Zealand’s most jaw-dropping natural scenery, including a limestone reef, imposing Castle Rock, lagoon, and and golden sand beach. The iconic Castlepoint Lighthouse is a perfect the spectacular Wairarapa spot for an unforgettable family photo.
Rewanui Forest Park
This 334-hectare forest park is one of the best examples of lowland forest in the Wellington region. There are three walking loop-tracks, ranging from 45 minutes to a two-hour round trip.
The Screening Room
Grab the kids a delicious bite to eat and something to drink before heading into one of the cozy movie theatres at the Screening Room Boutique Cinema & Eatery in Kuripuni Village in Masterton. thescreeningroom.co.nz
where to Stay in wairarapa
• Copthorne Solway Park Hotel & Resort (0800 SOLWAY) is popular with great facilities including an indoor pool, gymnasium and squash court.
• Mawley Holiday Park (06 378 6454), located across the river from the QE Park, is good value with cosy cabins.
where to Eat in Wairarapa
• The Farriers
• Lone Star
• Entice Cafe
• Ten O’Clock Cookie
• Thrill: Riding the miniature train in Queen Elizabeth Park, yelling like crazy when passing through the tunnel. Great fun for just $1.
• Relax: Buddying up with one of the kids in a pedal boat.
• Run around: Have fun among the magnificent trees in beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park.
• Shop: Zoom down to Greytown for some seriously good retail therapy.
• Dinner: Filling up at The Farriers or The Lone Star.
• Family time: Fish and chips on the golden sand at Castlepoint.
• Wildlife: Feeding the massive eels at Pūkaha.
• Photo: The Castlepoint Lighthouse, stunning!
Find out more
For information go to Destination Wairarapa. Need local advice? Contact Masterton i- SITE Visitor Centre on (06) 370 0900.
More family travel ideas from Tots to Teens