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           Home >  Regions  > Hawkes Bay  :

Getting To Know The North Island
Of New Zealand - Part Three

Hawkes Bay to Wellington
Written and Photographed by Kate Methven - 26/5/00

A lot to see and do on the way...

Stage Three - Lake Taupo to Hawke's Bay
- distance 143km (89 miles)

If you haven't already done so, you may wish to read Part One (Auckland to Taupo) and Part Two (Taupo to Hawke's Bay) of this series.

Getting there
From Napier to Wellington take State Highway Two via the Wairarapa. There's a lot to see and do on the way, so even though the distance is only 335kms (210 miles) may I suggest a stopover for a day or two somewhere en route.

This small farming township is a welcoming stopover about 90 minutes drive from Hastings. Norsewood these days is well known for its factory outlet for Norsewear - a range of heavy knitted goods suitable for skiing or outdoor activities. However, as the locals will tell you, the place has an interesting history.

Scandinavian Settlers
By the eighteen sixties there was a decline in the number of British people interested in coming to New Zealand and so the Government looked to the Scandinavian countries as a possible source of settlers. On 15 September 1872 the sailing ship Hovding arrived in Napier carrying 483 new settlers, all but eleven being Norwegian. A few days later the men trekked through the vast forest lands where the trees were so thick that it was almost impossible to see the sky. After four days they arrived at the area now known as Norsewood.

The men were shocked at the conditions they found at what was to be their future home, but many were farmers experienced in bush work so they set about clearing the land. Their families followed in the October and so the community was established despite the ruggedness of the area.

Pioneer Museum
Do try and find time to step back into the past and visit this wonderful museum and craft centre set up by the local people in 1965. The three rooms in the cottage are furnished as they would have been in the pioneering days and many relics of interest have been donated to add to the display. Afterwards you can stroll over to the Hovding Court Tea Rooms for some home-made baking and a coffee.

Dannevirke was settled by Danes who, like the Norwegians, found the country where they were to

A Great Picnic Place - Dannevirke Memorial Park
A Great Picnic Place - Dannevirke Memorial Park
Photo source Kate Methven
have forty acre blocks was covered with dense bush. They too cleared the land and established farms. The domain at Dannevirke is a beautiful place to take a break and enjoy the tall trees and the birds.

Heading South to the Wairarapa
After passing through Dannevirke you will reach Woodville - stop here if you like collecting antiques or if you just like to browse. Remember to stay with Highway Two heading for Masterton as here the road branches with an alternative route signposted to Wellington via Palmerston North... Not for us...

The Wairarapa area has been promoted as a place of escape for city dwellers. It is only around an hour's drive from Wellington and many people do commute to the city. It is a place with diverse attractions - rivers, lakes, bush, mountains, sea - plenty of places to get away from it all and enjoy the great outdoors.

Maori legend tells us of the great exploits of the hero Maui. The South Island is Maui's boat from which he hooked the North Island, or Maui's fish (Te Ika a Maui) Palliser Bay (southern Wairarapa) is the mouth of the fish and Lake Wairarapa is the eye.

If you are interested you can retrace the region's history by following the Wairarapa Heritage Trail along SH2. A free brochure is available from any Tourism Wairarapa Information Centre.

European history
The first Europeans entered the southern Wairarapa region in 1841 via the Rimutaka Mountains from Wellington and in 1844 New Zealand's first sheep station began with a flock of sheep driven around the coast from Wellington - some journey!

Farming and forestry are still the mainstay of this area although tourism is rapidly expanding. Homestays, wine trails, adventure playgrounds, daredevil sports - there are plenty of choices here.

Masterton was established in 1853 by John Masters and today it has become the commercial centre of the Wairarapa. The majority of Wairarapa's motels and the region's largest hotel are situated here though it is a little too busy for my taste. Maybe it was because we visited in early March when the annual Golden Shears international sheep shearing competition was taking place and there was hardly a parking place anywhere. We decided to head out east through beautiful hill country to Castlepoint.

The scenic reserve here is one of the most beautiful spots on the Wairarapa coast. Long stretches of sand and a sheltered lagoon where you can fish, surf or swim - just a great spot for a leisurely picnic lunch. Afterwards you can enjoy a wonderful walk to the lighthouse, a sea cave or the 162m Castle Rock. For those travelling by campervan there is a motor camp with shop and a 9 hole golf course - great spot!

Historic Greytown
After returning to Masterton heading south back on Highway Two we reach Greytown which was New Zealand's first planned inland town established in 1853 just a few weeks before Masterton. It has still retained its delightful colonial village character with New Zealand's most complete main street of wooden Victorian buildings - really delightful.

Early Cottage In Greytown
Early Cottage In Greytown
Photo source Kate Methven
A short stroll along memory lane reveals an interesting range of speciality shops including antiques, art and craft, gift shops and galleries. There are lots of eating places here too. We were sorry we'd had lunch but we did manage to enjoy afternoon tea with beautiful home baked cakes!!

Wine and Food
The Wairarapa has always lived off the land and today the region's wine and food make it a delight for visitors and locals alike. Gourmets can sample anything from venison to mushrooms, crayfish to berry fruit, eels to olives and more.

Martinborough, aptly named 'the wine village', owes its beginnings to John Martin who ran New Zealand's first sheep station. He planned the streets of the town in a Union Jack pattern, naming them after the exotic destinations he had visited.

The first vines were planted here in 1883 and now Martinborough has become a unique wine village with over twenty vineyards, most within walking distance of the delightful village square. There's plenty of local accommodation available so this could be a good spot to relax in for a couple of days.

Outdoor Activities
There are just so many places to explore in this region that it's hard to know where to begin. The Wairarapa's three forest parks and the Cape Palliser seal colony provide a great insight into this country's flora and fauna. From Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre where many of New Zealand's endangered birds are bred in a safe environment to Lake Wairarapa Rimutake Forest park to Castlepoint Scenic Reserve - you really need at least a week to get the full flavour.

Contact Tourism Wairarapa, PO Box 814 Masterton
Ph 06 378 7373 (International +64 6 3787373) or fax 06 378 7042 for more information on the area.

On to the Rimutakas
After passing through Featherston the road winds over the Rimutakas. Stop at the top and have a cuppa in a traditional style of Kiwi tearoom and enjoy panoramic views of the Wairarapa Valley and the mountains as you walk on the ridges of the Rimutaka Range.

A View From The Top Of The Rimutakas
A View From The Top
Of The Rimutakas

Photo source Kate Methven
Be aware as you drive down that this area is subject to strong winds. There is a corner called 'windy corner'. You will notice that this corner and other nearby areas have fences to give protection from the wind.

Head down a short distance and you will reach the upmarket dining and conference centre and cafe at the Kaitoke Country Gardens set amid formal rose gardens.

Note on your right as you drive further down the man-made lakes for the Wellingon water supply at Te Marua.

The road now takes you on down through Upper Hutt, a fast developing urban area, and Lower Hutt city. From Upper Hutt on there is a motorway into Wellington itself and over the last stretch skirts Port Nicholson, the Wellington Harbour.

The End Of The Road <br> Wellington Looking Tranquil In Late Summer
The End Of The Road
Wellington Looking Tranquil In Late Summer

Photo source Kate Methven

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