Outdoors or indoors?
Rug up and go for a walk or picnic
There’s nothing like getting out for a bit of fresh air – even when it’s bracing outside. For an easy stroll, meander around Henley Lake and marvel at the birdlife, or through Masterton’s Queen Elizabeth Park – there’s something hauntingly beautiful about walking amongst the bare trees.
Mount Holdsworth has some great walks for families – Donnelly’s Flat makes for a nice, gentle stroll through the bush, while the trek uphill to Rocky Lookout is more challenging. The Kiriwhakapapa trail and Rewanui Forest Park cross through regenerated forest, farmland, and native bush. Further south, try out the Waiohine Gorge walk – cross the largest swing bridge in New Zealand and take in the stunning view. The Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve is a great place for a winter walk – with some extraordinary rock formations in the background.
Picnics aren’t just for summer – provided you dress warmly and take something waterproof to sit on! Wairarapa has no shortage of pretty picnic spots including the previously mentioned Henley Lake and Mount Holdsworth – which has picnic tables and free BBQ areas. Put some hot chocolate in a thermos, pack something delicious or pick up something from one of Wairarapa’s great cafes enroute. And, if you’re near water, take some food for the ducks!
In the dark
It’s common to miss the longer, lighter days of a Wairarapa summer. But sometimes there’s nothing more peaceful and soothing than sitting outside in the pitch black, looking up at the night sky. If it’s not too windy outside and you’ve got an outdoor brazier, fire it up, gather the family and toast marshmallows! South Wairarapa has some of the darkest skies in the North Island and the Martinborough Dark Skies Society are going through a process to register the area as a dark sky reserve. You can often see the Milky Way and hundreds of constellations clearly with the naked eye on a calm, clear night.
Watch the game
If you can’t make it to Westpac Stadium this winter, never fear. Wairarapa has plenty of quality sportspeople, young and old. Catch a local game of rugby, soccer or netball. Even if you don’t have kids playing, rock up to a Saturday or Sunday match and cheer on our future sporting heroes. Or you can support talented members of our rugby, football and netball clubs around Wairarapa at their weekend games. Just remember to pile on the layers and possibly your gumboots!
Wander among the olive trees
Winter is time for the olive harvest – and with more olive groves than any other region in the country, it’s no surprise Wairarapa consistently produces some of the best extra virgin oil. Why not visit an olive grove, meet skilled and passionate growers, hear tricks of the olive trade and go olive oil tasting? Juno, Dali, Olivo and Fantail Grove are a few of our faves.
Pukaha Mount Bruce is a jewel in Wairarapa’s crown. Go for a bush walk, admire the native birds, tuatara, longfin eels and meet Frickleton – the new buddy of Manukura, the white kiwi. The staff at Pukaha are hoping the two become a pair. Throughout winter, Pukaha also has Prams at Pukaha and entry is half price on Mondays and Tuesdays between 9am and 10.30am for parents and caregivers of under-fives.
Don’t forget indoors…
Escaping to different worlds through the silver screen is always great therapy in winter. Check out a movie at Circus in Martinborough or The Screening Room in Kuripuni. Comfy seats, wine and coffee to sip during the movie and delicious seasonal meals at the restaurant beforehand – a step up from a night in with Netflix.
For live entertainment, Wairarapa’s amateur drama societies provide many opportunities for fine theatre. Harlequin in Masterton, Limelight Theatre in Carterton and Greytown Little Theatre have shows over the winter period. For clothing buffs, you can’t go past the Oversew Fashion Awards at Carterton Events Centre – featuring some drop-dead gorgeous upcycled outfits designed by clever locals. Carterton’s answer to New York Fashion Week.
Red wine is always good for warming the cockles! So, why not use the cold weather as an opportunity for some wine tasting and discover a new favourite? At Palliser Estate, the cellar door is open seven days a week throughout winter. Also, check out Martinborough Wine Merchants, who can point you in the direction of some lesser-known varieties of red wine or the ever-popular Pinot Noir from the region.
Art and culture lovers can keep warm with a browse around Aratoi Museum of Art and History in Masterton. Along with permanent exhibitions, there are stunning exhibitions featuring all types of media (painting, photography, ceramics, Māori art – the works), frequent live performances, a retail space stocked with locally-made treasures and a holiday programme for the youngsters. Entry is free.