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A New Zealand Travel Guide

Hawkes Bay / Wairarapa New Zealand

" wine and orchard country, shearing contests, art deco and rare native birds . . .


To get more information on Hawkes bay and Wairarapa Download my FREE E-BOOK "A New Zealand Travel Guide.  It will give you much more detail on arrival formalities, transport, accommodation, driving in the country, as well as a detailed guide to the action and attractions in the regions.  All that and a whole lot of other useful stuff you'll need to know to get the most enjoyment from your time here.


If you are making any kind of a loop tour of the country - i.e. starting from Auckland, travelling to Wellington (and possibly the South Island) and thence back to Auckland - you'll have the issue of which road to take one way, and what the other way.

Since most travellers take SH1 one way, the options for the other direction are through Taranaki, through the Parapara Road between Wanganui and Raetihi near Mt Ruapehu, or through the Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay.

Each has its attractions, but if a decision has to be made (a friend of mine, Ian Margison, used to say to his staff "If you want a decision, try making one") the the latter is probably the best option.

Big attraction of the southern Wairarapa region is wine. The area around Martinborough has a number of excellent winemakers.

If you like lonely coasts, pick your way out seawards here and enjoy some of the best coastline (and worst roads) in the country. The road from Masterston to Waipukurau - the alternative to SH2 - is a good road for most of its length, with only a short stretch of gravel in the middle. If you really want to get away from the madness of the world, meander along this typical New Zealand rural road - a place where the locals still wave as you pass them. Drivers of cars coming the other way will raise a couple of fingers in acknowledgement - no, not that sort of two finger acknowledgment! Just a quiet interaction between travellers on a countryside journey.

Other than the lack of any rush-rush-rush and the rugged coast, the main attraction is visiting the place with, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the longest place-name in the world: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. Which is basically a Maori sentence that means "The place where Tamatea, the man with big knees, slid, climbed, and swallowed mountains, known as landeater, played his flute to his loved one". It has been bestowed upon a rather ordinary hill about 8km off the main road. The descendants of Tamatea still farm the property.

Otherwise, you'll stay on SH2 through Carterton and Masterton.

For wildlife enthusiasts - or if you have kids (which sometimes amounts to the same thing) - or if you just want to take a timely stop the Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre. Here you can get close to some of NZ's most precious and endangered birds like saddleback, stitchbird and kokako. These are some of the rarest bird species in the world and they're being patiently nursed back from the abyss of extinction.

Masterton has one main claim to fame . . . shearing. For many years this country literally lived off the sheep's back - wool was a major export - and the men who shore the sheep were rather special. Hard men (and women). Tough men (and women). Their own lore grew up around them.

Shearers developed their skill to a fine art and set daily production tallies that made the rest of the world blink in amazement. Currently the world record for shearing is around 660 sheep in an 8-hour working day.

On the first weekend of March every year it's Golden Shears week in Masterton - when those hard men (and women) leave the nation's shearing sheds for a few days to pit their speed and skill against all comers. If you're in the area at that time go to this event. There isn't anything more "kiwi" than this. But book your accommodation early or see it on a day trip, or as part of the day's run to or from Wellington.

Hastings.

Two big attractions here.

The big biggie is the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. It's the world's largest mainland colony of the bird with something around 15,000 nesters between October and April. The best time to visit is between early November and late February.

The other "must-do" is a drive to the top of Te Mata Peak for a broad vista of one of the prettiest parts of the country. There are several walking tracks if you have the time.

Fancy a bit of an adrenalin bang - go tandem paragliding - 15mins soaring along the cliffs of the mountain, perhaps even climbing to cloud base in the right conditions.

Napier.

Styles itself as the art deco capital of the world. Not without reason. The climate has that Mediterranean feel - warm and temperate - and with its Pacific shore location, palms, and Norfolk Pines, its thirties-style gardens it somehow captures the spirit of the "design moderne" era.

In 1931 a devastating earthquake flattened the old brick buildings of the original Napier. Being the period, the new-built environment was designed in art deco mode. Fortunately "progress" largely ignored the place until we had time to realise that this was an architectural treasure to be preserved and enhanced.

The Aquarium of New Zealand, reputedly the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, has everything from crabs to a 3m "Jaws" as well as piranhas, lizards and turtles. 

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A New Zealand Travel Guide is written by David Morris and published by

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Phone (Country code 64, area code 9) 625-6469

Email: drm@visitnz.co.nz

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Just About Everything You Ever Needed  To Know To Get The Most From Your NZ Holiday

The (Almost) Complete Guide To NZ is the kind of information you need to make the best of your holiday in New Zealand - recommendations on where to stay, where to eat, what to see. 

Yes, all that.  But more, much more. 

Transport, rest areas, photo opportunities, historical background, special places that few others know about  Ohhhh . . .  heaps and heaps of stuff.

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12 March 2012