The Wairarapa area in the south-eastern corner of New Zealand’s North Island is one of the country’s most underrated road trip regions.
Yeah, yeah, we all know about Martinborough and its wine industry. But there is a lot more to this region that a few bottles of high-class plonk.
There’s a clue in the name – it means “glistening waters”, given by Maori explorer Haunui who saw its lake and rivers from atop the Tararua Ranges to the west.
For the most part it is a soft and gentle landscape of pancake-flat plains that snuggle between the western mountains and a range of low rolling hills to the east.
Most drivers traversing the region take State Highway 2, the main trunk highway, but the best road trip is the run from Martinborough on a back road, Route 52, north to SH2 at Waipukurau.
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