In the Wairarapa we are lucky to have so many places where we can spread out a picnic rug and open the chilly bin. Here’s a small sample of picnic spots by Katherine Robinson.
AMONG THE VINES
If you are winetasting at Gladstone and Te Kairanga you can bring your own picnic and eat it at the picnic tables provided. And there’s the bonus of being able to enjoy a glass of wine at the place where it was made. Brodie Estate make it even easier – you can order a picnic hamper online to eat at the vineyard. Other vineyards may also accept picnickers but you should ask first.
I grew up in a family that believed that a picnic wasn’t a picnic unless there was also a walk involved – often uphill. As kids, laden with picnic paraphernalia, we may have grizzled about that walk, but now I only remember having lunch in some spectacular places.
Aorangi, Rimutaka and Tararua ranges all have picnic and camping areas around main entrances to the parks, and easy access to walks that suit all tness levels. Waiohine Gorge, where the river sweeps through a deep gorge surrounded by bush on all sides, is one of the prettiest, and has the added thrill of a swing bridge across the river. Mt Holdsworth has plenty of space for picnickers and campers, and is the starting point of accessible walking tracks like Donnelly Flat. There is also a wide, grassy area at the entrance to the eerily atmospheric Putangirua Pinnacles, plus options for easy or more challenging post - picnic walks. doc.govt.nz
CYCLE THE WAY
Pack a picnic and cycle (or walk) the Rimutaka Incline Walk. It offers a couple of picnic spots on either side of the Rimutaka Hill if you only fancy doing one leg of the track. On the Wairarapa side, you could plan a picnic at Cross Creek; but the easier route to the Summit is from Kaitoke, signposted off SH2. The route follows the old rail track dating from when the Wairarapa- Wellington line was over the Rimutaka Ranges. You’ll need a good light or a torch if you want to go through the tunnels – the longest, near the Summit, is 576 metres. doc.govt.nz
AT THE BEACH
It’s hard to go past Riversdale or Castlepoint for a picnic and a swim. However, if you want to picnic and explore a wild stretch of the Wairarapa coast, Otahome, south of Castlepoint, is one of those beaches where your own footprints could well be the only ones in the sand. From the Masterton-Castlepoint Rd, take the Blairlogie-Langdale Rd to Whareama, then Waimimi Rd to Otahome Road in Otahome. 50-54 mins from Masterton, partly on unsealed road.
DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE
Morrison’s Bush is private farmland open to the public for picnicking beside the Ruamahanga River. It offers plenty of green space, peace and seclusion under the trees, and it is also a campsite, so expect it to be a little busier in peak season. To camp there, you need to ask permission from the owner first (Bryan Tucker, Ph: 027 457 0616). Off the Greytown-Martinborough Road, signposted as river access.
Queen Elizabeth Park, Masterton, is clearly the jewel in the crown but there are also smaller, more hidden green spaces in Wairarapa towns, such as Stella Bull Park beside the White Swan Hotel in Greytown, which are perfect for impromptu picnics. And also in Greytown, the Soldiers Memorial Park, Kuratawhiti St, where you might even be able to catch a game of cricket.
PACK YOUR PICNIC BASKETS, THE RACES ARE BACK IN TOWN
Nothing says summer’s here like a day at the races, and where better to relax with the whole family than at the Interislander Summer Festival. To make your day even more enjoyable we are giving away a family picnic pack, complete with a picnic blanket, sunscreen and adult tickets (kids go free) to the Tauherenikau Races on Tuesday 2 January 2018.
Held across the country's most picturesque racecourses from Ruakaka in the North to Wingatui in the South, you can expect top-notch racing, local food and live music. With all-day entertainment for the kids, there is something for the whole family.