Not only are there several activities planned to celebrate all things to do with rugby for both locals and visitors, but many are designed to celebrate the Wairarapa’s proud and rich rugby history and its position as one of new Zealand’s top wine and food destinations.

In addition special trains will return to and from Wellington on Tuesday, 27 June and Saturday, 1 July for games being held at Wellington Stadium.

“Supporters can stay here, in a premium wine and food region and soak up our incredible hospitality, then enjoy easy access to and from the games on our scenic train journey,” says Barb Hyde, Destination Wairarapa’s marketing manager. 

For those choosing to stay in the region then travel to and from Wellington … it’s easy. Transdev Wellington, who operate and maintain the Metlink rail service on behalf of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, say passengers will be able to pre-purchase a ticket for a special train after the game.  These tickets will include guaranteed seats on trains into Wellington before the game either on a normal scheduled service or on Saturday’s Special train to Wellington. Special trains will return passengers to the Wairarapa. Return ticket costs $35 and can be purchased at the Wellington Railway Station ticket office, or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your name, phone number, postal address and travel date. When booking please specify which service you prefer to take into Wellington and which service you would prefer to take home. 

For those based in the Wairarapa during the tour there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained, In addition to ‘Hard on the Heels’, an acclaimed photography exhibition by leading New Zealand photojournalist Peter Bush being held at Aratoi - Wairarapa Museum of Art and History in Masterton (see page 8 for full story) and the Reds, Whites & Brews Festival (27 June- 4 July) being held in the wine village of Martinborough, there will be a screening of the Lions v Hurricanes game and the Lions v All Blacks game on the big screen in Masterton’s Indoor War Memorial Stadium at the Trust House Recreation Centre which is aimed at families.

A special dinner called Rugby Yarns with The Lion, The All Black and The Ref will be held at the Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park (28 June) with guest speakers Sir Brian Lochore, John Jeffries and French rugby referee Romain Poite. The $100 ticketed dinner includes a welcome drink, canapés, two course meal, charity auction of rare rugby memorabilia and cash bar. One of the auction items is a rugby ball that belonged to former All Black Dave Loveridge, who played halfback against the Lions in 1983, and got a ball signed by both teams before donating it to Colin “Barney” Haw’s rugby museum in New Plymouth. Haw then donated it to the Carterton Rugby Football Club to be used in a fundraising capacity, much to the delight of CRFC President Steve Hurley.

“Barney wanted to make sure the proceeds of any fundraising activity around the ball are channelled back into club rugby which is just terrific,” says Hurley, a former full back for Taranaki and Wairarapa Bush. 

The ball is signed by the whole 1983 All Black team including Kieran Crowley, Robbie Deans Stu Wilson, Bernie Fraser, Wayne Smith, David Kirk, Murray Mexted and Jock Hobbs, while the Lions team features names such as Clive Woodward, Trevor Ringland, John Rutherford, Steve Smith and Ciaran Fitzgerald. 

There will also be a “grass roots” function at the Carterton RFC (29 June), the Wairarapa will host the Ride of the Lions, a cycle ride featuring with former All Blacks and Lions players in July and there will be a special collaboration between Aratoi Museum and the Wairarapa Archives highlighting the Lions v Wairarapa Bush history will also be on display at the Wairarapa Bush clubrooms. 

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