Masterton and nearby Greytown were established in 1854 by the Wairarapa Small Farms Association. The association was led by Joseph Masters, after whom the town is named. Masterton gained borough status in 1877, and the railway from Wellington arrived in November 1880. Today the town is home to 21,200 people, with another 3,500 living in the surrounding rural areas.
- 1 Masterton i-SITE Visitor Centre, cnr Dixon & Bruce Sts, Masterton, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Fr 09:00-17:00, Sa-Su & holidays 10:00-16:00.
State Highway 2 passes through the middle of Masterton en route between Wellington and the Hawke's Bay. There is a signposted heavy traffic bypass for those passing through and wanting to avoid central Masterton. State Highway 2 from Wellington passes over Remutaka Pass via the Rimutaka Hill Road, a busy and winding 15 km road with a poor accident record, so take extra care.
Distance and times (non-stop):
- Wellington - 100 km (1hr 30min)
- Palmerston North - 110 km (1hr 25mins)
- Hastings - 210 km (2hr 30min)
- Auckland - 610 km (7hr 15min)
Metlink train services run between Wellington and Masterton five times daily on weekdays and twice daily on weekends each way, taking around 95 minutes. There are no reserved seats but there is a luggage compartment and bicycles can be carried. Tickets can be purchased at a station ticket office (cash or EFTPOS) or onboard the train (cash only). The standard adult single fare from Wellington is $18.00.
There are three stations serving Masterton: 1 Solway, 2 Renall Street, and 3 Masterton. Masterton is the main station and the closest to the town centre, and is staffed for 30 minutes prior to each Wellington-bound departure. Solway and Renall Street are non-staffed; Solway is mainly a park 'n' ride station located in a semi-rural area serving southern Masterton, while Renall Street serves the nearby residential areas.
A regular public bus service operating six days a week (no service Sunday or public holidays) connects Masterton with Carterton, Greytown, Featherston and Martinborough to the south. Tranzit Coachlines operates a bus service between Palmerston North and Masterton five times per week.
There have been no air services to Masterton since February 2014. The nearest airports with scheduled air services are in Wellington and Palmerston North.
Central Masterton has three main streets parallel to each other; Chapel Street (SH 2) to the west, Queen Street in the middle and Dixon Street to the east. Most of the major commercial and retail facilities in Masterton are located on one of these three streets.
Masterton is reasonably flat, so walking and cycling around the town are viable options.
A shopper bus service operates within the town between 09:00 and 15:15 on weekdays rotating between four routes: South (202), West (201), Lansdowne (203) and East (206).
- 1 The Wool Shed, National Museum of Sheep and Shearing, 12 Dixon St, ☎ . Daily 10:00-16:00. Adult $8, child (5-14) $2, family (2+2) $15.
- 2 Queen Elizabeth Park. Park with Cricket oval. Minature train rides at weekends, boating pond and children's playground.
- 1 Mt Holdsworth - Jumbo Circuit. A 24km 2-3 day tramp (walk), with accommodation in DOC huts. The route climbs through forest to open high top tracks, climbing from an altitude of 313m to 1448m. huts $5 - $15 per night.
- 2 Golden Shears, War Memorial Stadium, 2 Dixon St. New Zealand's premier sheep shearing and wool handling competition, held annually in the first weekend of March.
- Wairarapa Balloon Festival. Dozens of hot air balloons from New Zealand and the world congregate on the Masterton area for an annual 4-5 day festival held in March-April. The major highlight of the festival is the Night Glow, held at Solway Showgrounds.
- 3 Wings over Wairarapa, Hood Aerodrome, South Road. A biennial air show and festival featuring dozens of vintage WWI and WWII aircraft. The last festival on 17-19 February 2017 was washed out; the next is due in 2019.
- 1 Wairarapa Farmers' Market, The Farriers Carpark, 4 Queen St (entrance off Chapel St opposite fire station). Sa 09:00-13:00. Local produce including fruit and vegetables, honey, cheese, wine, eggs and olive oil.
All three major supermarket chains have a presence in Masterton: Pak'n Save (cnr Queen & Crayne Sts, Kuripuni), Countdown (cnr Queen St & Worksop Rd), and New World (cnr Dixon & Bruce Sts). Most of the national fast food chains have presence in Masterton: Burger King, Domino's, McDonald's, Pita Pit and Subway are within a short distance of each other on Chapel Street between Lincoln Road and King Street, while Hell Pizza (276 Queen Street), KFC (cnr Chapel & Crayne Sts, Kuripuni), and Pizza Hut (89 Chapel Street) are also present.
- 1 Cafe Strada, 232 Queen Street (cnr Jackson Street), ☎ . Daily 07:15 to late. $18-$32.
- 2 The Farriers Bar & Eatery, 4 Queen St, ☎ . Daily 09:00 to late. $21-$37.
- 3 Lone Star Restaurant & Bar, 49 Dixon St (cnr Church Street), ☎ . Mo-Th 15:00-late, Fr-Su 11:00-late. Texas-themed restaurant known for its large meals. $24-$38.
- 4 Ten O'Clock Cookie Bakery Cafe, 180 Queen St, ☎ . Mo-We 07:00-16:30, Th-Fr 07:00-21:30, Sa 08:00-16:00, Su closed. Multiple award-winning bakery.
- 1 Acorn Estate Motel, 6 Manchester St, Solway (cnr High St), ☎ , toll-free: 0800 222 191. 11 Smoke free self contained suites with full cooking facilities & Sky TV. Access units available. Guest laundry, BBQ, swimming pool, private spa, playground, trampoline, wireless internet. Continental & cooked breakfasts available. A member of the Host Accommodation group. Qualmark 3 star plus self contained and serviced. $95-$135.
- 2 Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park, High Street, Solway, ☎ . 102 rooms sleeping 2-4 persons. Has on onsite restaurant and bar, separate cafe and golf driving range. Qualmark 4 Star Plus. $145-210.
Accident & emergency is located at 2 Wairarapa Hospital on Te Ore Ore Road, Lansdowne. In an emergency, dial 111 for an ambulance.
- 3 Masterton Medical, 4 Colombo Road, Lansdowne (behind the hospital), ☎ . Weekdays 08:00-18:00 (except We 09:00-18:00). The sole medical centre serving Masterton. Beware due to the large patient base, a routine appointment can involve a 7-10 day wait. The Wairarapa After Hours Service for urgent after-hours appointments operates out of Masterton Medical on weekends and public holidays 09:00 to 17:00 and at other times by arrangement. Medical $67; Accident (ACC) $35.