Pictorial of Masterton:
Wairarapa's largest town makes a handy base from which to explore the region. It has all the shops you'd expect of a large provincial town and plenty of places to stay. It's especially good for families as you'll find lots of things for children to do. The town is named after its founder, the indefatigable Joseph Masters, who established the town in 1854. When the rail link was pushed through from Wellington in 1881, Masterton thrived, becoming the region's main town.
Attractions and things to include:
> Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, a 20 minute drive north of Masterton, and recently refurbished to include compelling interactive attractions. Outside you can walk up through the rainforest, but don't miss the eel and kaka feeding times.
> Mangatainoka's Tui Brewery - you can't miss the seven-storey tower rising out of the valley but you need to book a tour to see inside. Make a trip to the witty souvenir shop.
> Aratoi, Wairarapa's Museum of Art and History, has a fine reputation for showing local and national exhibitions in an inspired viewing space.
> Next door to Aratoi, Shear Discovery New Zealand tells the story of sheep farming through video and three-dimensional displays.
> Queen Elizabeth Park - it's worth a ramble through this peaceful park, filled with deciduous trees and a well-placed cafe`. Children love the playground, miniature railway, flying fox and pedal boats and both parents and their children can enjoy a round of the Mini Putt Golf.
> A destination in itself, the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park Masterton has swimming pools, restaurants, even a golf driving range.
> Make a splash at the Genesis Energy Recreation Centre - there's a hydroslide, indoor and outdoor pools.