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The Wairarapa’s best natural attractions

Posted by Website Admin on April 06, 2020

The Wairarapa’s best natural attractions

Our lightly populated Wairarapa region has been described as having a wild and untouched feel. With the Tararua ranges to the west, a rugged coastline to the east and just five main sleepy towns nestled in between, it is the perfect, peaceful place to escape the daily grind. Guests at Wharekauhau Lodge are already spoilt with unrivalled views—but there are other many other amazing natural attractions nearby that are worth a look. Once visited, they may just make the Wairarapa your new favourite holiday destination.

Cape Palliser

Sitting on the other side of Palliser Bay, just a one-hour drive from Wharekauhau, is Cape Palliser: the southernmost point of the North Island. Extending further south than the South Island townships of Nelson and Blenheim, Cape Palliser sits high above the sea offering incredible and expansive views. The North Island’s largest fur seal colony is located here and if visiting in the summer months, you could be lucky enough to encounter some adorable fur seal pups. You won’t want to leave without seeing Cape Palliser’s most famous landmark up close—the Cape Palliser lighthouse. With its traditional design and distinctive red and white stripes, the 133-year-old lighthouse offers a stunning contrast against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

The Putangirua Pinnacles

The fascinating Putangirua Pinnacles can be found at the head of a valley in the Aorangi Ranges, just a 45-minute drive from Wharekauhau. ‘The Pinnacles’, as they are colloquially known, are a group of jagged rocks that stick straight up in the air, resembling stalagmites on a cave floor—but on a much larger scale. The Putangirua Pinaccles are hoodoos—rock formations that emerge in a specific type of terrain as a result of long-term erosion by wind and water. It’s not known exactly how old The Pinnacles are, but they are thought to be less than 125,000 years old; with major erosion beginning 7000 years ago and escalating in the last 1000 years following deforestation. Movie buffs may also recognise the Putangirua Pinnacles from ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’.

Raumahanga River and Wairarapa Moana Wetlands

For those hoping to try a new outdoor activity, the Raumahanga River is touted as one of the best places in New Zealand to catch a trout. The river begins high in the Tararua ranges north-west of Masterton, runs through the Tararua Conservation Park then empties into the tidal Lake Onoke, linking up with many smaller tributaries on the way. The 100-kilometre long river sustains both brown trout and rainbow trout populations, and it is an important tributary to the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands system—the largest wetlands system in the southern North Island, situated just 25 minutes from Wharekauhau. The protected area supports hundreds of diverse bird and fish species including international migratory birds and the threatened brown mudfish and giant kokopu.

Castlepoint Beach

Castlepoint Beach is a popular holiday and weekend destination for Wairarapa and Wellington locals. The unpatrolled beach offers surfing, fishing, swimming, walking trails and yet another charming lighthouse—one of only two remaining beam lighthouses in the country. The unspoiled beach attracts dolphins, fur seals and a wide variety of birdlife, and the 162-metre high Castle Rock breeds its very own flower that can’t be found anywhere else in the world—the Castlepoint Daisy. Castlepoint Beach is a two-hour drive from Wharekauhau, making it the perfect Wairarapa day trip for those wanting to explore more of the region’s amazing coastline.

Best wine varietals in the Wairarapa

Posted by Website Admin on March 25, 2020

Best wine varietals in the Wairarapa

With a relatively small number of vineyards compared to other wine-growing destinations, the beautiful Wairarapa is one of New Zealand’s ‘boutique’ wine-making regions. This is not to say that the wines are any less impressive—in fact, the unique combination of climate and soil means some of the country’s best wines are produced in the mighty Wairarapa. We highly recommend a wine tour when you stay at Wharekauhau, so, to help you prepare, we’ve listed some of the best wine varietals you simply must sample for the optimum wine-tasting experience.

Pinot Noir

Sommeliers and fine wine specialists say that some of New Zealand’s best Pinot Noir hails from the Wairarapa. Pinot Noir is best grown in a cooler climate and with the Wairarapa’s crisp shoulder seasons and evenings, it thrives across the three main sub-regions of Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton. Rich, warm and elegant have all been used to describe Wairarapa Pinot Noir, which appears to contain more red fruits than the black fruits that are more prevalent in other regions renowned for their Pinot Noir.

Sauvignon Blanc

It is not just the Marlborough region that can churn out a great Sauvignon Blanc. As a grape that grows incredibly well in shallow, silty soils with high levels of acidity, Sauvignon Blanc prospers in the Wairarapa’s well-balanced silty loam. Over 25% of the wines produced in the Wairarapa are Sauvignon Blanc, making it one of the region’s most popular wine varietals. So while it may not be the obvious choice for some, trying a good Wairarapa Sauvignon is a must!


If you’re unfamiliar with the term "aromatics', this category includes some incredibly popular white wine varieties that have a strong floral aroma—think Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewu?rztramine. Aromatics are one of the top five wine varietals grown in the Wairarapa, with the climate supporting a long growing season and late harvest. Botrytised varieties are also common—this is a technique that enables grapes to form a beneficial fungus that reduces water, increases sugar and brings out flavours that are honeyed and complex.


Syrah is another wine varietal which fares well in the Wairarapa. Commonly known as Shiraz in other parts of the world, Syrah is a medium-bodied dry red wine, heavier than a Pinot Noir but lighter than a Cabernet Sauvignon. A Wairarapa Syrah has been likened to the traditional, ‘old-style’ Syrah grown in the infamous Northern Rhône region of France—spicy, bold and tannic. Hot summer days in the Wairarapa allow Syrah grapes to flourish, producing wines to rival those from France’s Rhône, Australia’s Barossa Valley and California’s Napa Valley.


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