A weekend in the Wairarapa

Posted by Steven on June 08, 2023




Landing in Wellington late on a Friday afternoon, we wasted no time picking up a rental car and heading out of the city and over the Remutaka Hill to the Wairarapa. After a short and scenic 90 - minute drive, we arrived mid evening at Wharekauhau Lodge. Having memories of an earlier visit a few years back, our first and lasting impression was how wonderful the lodge is looking these days, in top notch condition and surrounded by mature native planting.

After we settled in by the great room fireplace for refreshments, the Wharekauhau team were on hand for a thoughtfully planned late supper.

The lodge guest rooms are spacious and well designed with an overall feeling of calm and layered luxury. Views over farmland and remote cliffs to the bright blue streak of sea on the horizon are spectacular. The California King canopied bed offered a sound sleep in the quiet of the countryside and the next morning we enjoyed the chef’s breakfast special, in the bright and sunlit conservatory area overlooking the rear garden and courtyard.

New Land Rover Defenders, eBikes, mountain bikes as well as modern ATV quad bikes are the excellent range of lodge equipment at your disposal. Our guide Ross was thoughtful and informative as we explored the farm and beach area by ATV. Some small river crossings and steep tracks were easily and safely traversed.

The Claybird shooting area by the edge of a schist strewn river was a challenge – with multiple locations and angles from which to hit targets, under Ross’s expert tuition.

The location of Wharekauhau itself is wild and rugged. You except to get some weather here.

Often, the question is asked ‘what is the difference between here and other North Island lodges’. Well, you could say not a huge amount – as they all have their appeal and often with so little time, they are interchangeable (which is a good thing). But Wharekauhau has a wild and rugged landscape which is unique and very beautiful. The outdoor activities are second to none here. And the handsome two storied lodge is large and exquisitely appointed, with various areas to dine in or retreat to. The unique red room on the second floor lends itself to a cozy evening dining or an intimate meeting area. The red felted snooker table in the games room and multiple dining areas with views, together with the large ‘morning room’ conservatory wing allows for natural light and creates a mood of countrified elegance with a real sense of space. When you add to this, the large indoor pool and spa complex, an outdoor spa, modern tennis court and some great walking trials, this allows for ample variety in terms of daily activity.

Wharekauhau is a great choice for those experiencing their second time in the country, or for those who enjoy the freedom of a self-drive vacation. And it’s all part of the experience to wend your way through the countryside and vineyards to reach this remote lodge.

In the afternoon, we jumped in one of the well-appointed brand new Land Rover Defender, to head to Martinborough with Michelle, another of the lodge’s friendly guiding team. Martinborough (40 mins drive) is well supported by Wellington based locals making it a vibrant and fun destination at any time of year. Cellar doors, lunch venues and tastings abound, as well as some interesting local stores, We sampled a flight of wines at three cellar doors and ate at excellent Moy Hall Vineyard, a popular tapas style lunch venue.

Following another outstanding five course tasting menu at Wharekauhau (the food was truly exceptional), the next morning we explored more of Martinborough and continued on to Greytown, some 15 mins down the road, before journeying back to Wellington.

Always a favourite destination, Greytown has quirky antique stores, boutiques and well preserved colonial buildings. Overall, the Wairarapa region did not disappoint with a vibrant weekend crowd enjoying the country town vibe.