Hotels in Masterton, New Zealand
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Escape to serene Masterton to sample New Zealand’s rural charm
With pretty parks, shopping opportunities and interesting museums, there’s much more to rural Masterton in New Zealand than meets the eye. The largest town in the wine-growing Wairarapa region, it hosts the world’s top sheep-shearing contest annually. Additionally, there’s a major biennial air show starring vintage aircraft. Situated amid beautiful countryside about one hour’s drive inland from tranquil Pacific Ocean beaches on the marine life-rich south-eastern coast of the North Island, Masterton contains numerous hotels and eateries. Masterton also boasts rail and road links with the exciting Kiwi capital of Wellington, located about 90 minutes’ drive down State Highway 2.
Experience flypasts, close shaves and interesting museums in Masterton
Peak demand for hotels in Masterton usually coincides with the biggest events in its calendar. Leading the way is the annual Golden Shears competition that celebrates the region’s sheep-shearing and wool-handling traditions. For three action-packed days, each March contenders come from around the globe to participate in this prestigious competition that crowns the fastest and most proficient shearers in the world. Taking place at Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium, visitors can expect to see dozens of sheep being shorn against the clock, although the judges can dock points for shoddy shearing. Meanwhile, aviation enthusiasts will love the biennial Wings Over Wairarapa air show that normally takes place in February at the Hood Aerodrome, roughly two miles south of downtown. The North Island’s biggest air show, sees dozens of aircraft old and new take to the skies for daredevil aerobatic displays, mock dogfights and flypasts. On the ground, there are also family-friendly attractions galore to enjoy during the event.
Masterton possesses a string of interesting museums to discover near your chosen hotel whatever time of year you visit. The Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History in Bruce Street frequently welcomes visiting exhibitions on topics as diverse as Maori culture and New Zealand’s passion for rugby. It also holds a regular collection of paintings with a local theme. Around the corner in Dixon Street, the Wool Shed museum uses hands-on heritage exhibits to tell the story of sheep farming and the Masterton region’s global pedigree in the sport of sheep-shearing. Aviation devotees who miss the biennial air show can still get their fix of vintage flying machines at the Vintage Aviator Collection attraction at Hood Aerodrome, where the hangar contains some of the world’s only flying examples of rare First World War aircraft.
Masterton enjoys a mild climate plus an abundance of green spaces where visitors can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life to unwind. The town’s pleasant parks include the serene Henley Lake Park and the centrally-located Cameron and Soldiers Memorial Park. Families are sure to love the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park, which is Masterton’s showpiece park, situated between the Waipoua River and the town centre. Featuring one of the best children’s playgrounds nationwide, it also boasts a café, miniature train, mini golf course, cricket pitch, skate park and boating lake complete with paddle boats, ducks and swans.
For a day relaxing, swimming or surfing at the beach, travellers can leave their hotels in Masterton behind and head across the thinly-populated Wairarapa countryside to the eastern coast of the North Island’s southern region. Linked to Masterton by one of Wairarapa’s most scenic roads, the Pacific Ocean coastal settlements of Castlepoint and Riversdale possess some of the region’s most spectacular and unspoilt beaches. Castlepoint features beaches sheltered by an offshore reef and lucky visitors might be fortunate enough to see dolphins or even migrating humpback whales from the shore. Meanwhile, Riversdale is home to one of the longest beaches in Wairarapa and is notable for its year-round surf.
Taste fine wines
Since Masterton anchors a wine-growing area, it’s the perfect place to begin a tour of the numerous wineries nearby. Not far from the hotels of Masterton, there are several vineyards that take advantage of the Wairarapa region’s almost Mediterranean weather conditions to produce wines with a global reputation. Found about 20 minutes’ drive to the south, the Johner Estate is among the best-known wineries near Masterton and it was planted in 2001. Visitors can enjoy its tasting rooms and stock up on its celebrated varieties. A little further afield, wine-lovers can keep following the winery trail with a tour of the many vineyards around Martinborough, located less than 30 miles to the south. As the main hub of Wairarapa’s wine-growing activity, Martinborough possesses a string of distinguished wineries growing mainly Pinot noir and Pinot gris grapes on dry riverbeds. Tirohana Estate, Poppies Martinborough, Brodie Estate, Coney Wines, Luna Estate and Vynfields are among the Martinborough wineries which feature their own on-site restaurants.
The area around Masterton brims with things for travellers to see and do. For those who like to keep active, there are remote hiking trails such as the two or three-day Whareama Coastal Walk, as well as even tougher terrain to tackle for more experienced outdoors enthusiasts in the beautiful mountains of the Tararua Range to the west.
Roughly 30 minutes’ drive away in Featherston, movie buffs might recognise a filming location at the Fernside gardens used in Kiwi filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson’s big screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. A lake in the gardens was featured during a scene where Sméagol succumbs to the power of the One Ring.
Price rangefrom NZ$95to NZ$387
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