Sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds by the Rimutaka and Tararua ranges in the south-east of the North Island of New Zealand, the Wairarapa region has a warm dry climate. It was one of the first areas that the settlers of Wellington explored for farmland. While the region is mostly suitable for general sheep and dairy farming, there are localities where horticulture and viticulture have been established.
From Palmerston North, take State Highway 3 via the Manawatu Gorge. This joins to State Highway 2 at Woodville in Northern Wairarapa. An alternative route is the 'Pahiatua Track' (actually a fairly good sealed road).
There is a regular morning and afternoon train service to and from Wellington known as the Wairarapa Connection. Primarily for commuters to Wellington from the Wairarapa, it runs seven days a week with at least one service each way morning and afternoon. Purchase tickets at the station ticket office (if there is one open) or on the train. There are no reserved seats but there is a luggage compartment and bicycles can be carried. The train stops at Featherston, Woodside (for Greytown), Matarawa, Carterton and at 3 stations in Masterton.
A car is probably a good idea if you intend to get out of town. Though the country is reasonably flat so bicycling is practical for short distances.
- Mt Bruce National Wildlife Center. This DOC center is a good place to see kiwis and kaka (bush parrot), and plenty of other native birds. 20 min drive from Masterton on the way to Palmerston North.
- Stonehenge Aotearoa. Tours $10. A full sized working model of an astronomical stone circle, like Stonehenge, constructed from modern materials at Ahiaruhe, near Carterton. Opened 12 February 2005.
- The seal colony at Cape Palliser and the amazing Putangirua Pinnacles.
Martinborough is a small wine-growing area. There are several wine and food festivals throughout the year.