Wairarapa Tasman Travels

Wairarapa with Tasman Travels

Jordan and Tom Tasman made their MCD debut in our July feature article ‘Two Guys, One Van’. We were so taken by their genuine appreciation of New Zealand that we’ve stayed in touch to continue to share their on-the-road van adventures.

One of the pair’s more recent destinations was the Wairarapa – perfectly timed to coincide with our Destination focus on the region. The Wairarapa holds a special place in the heart of Jordan and Tom, as it was also where they chose to get married. Before making their way there, they confess they had heard very little of the Wairarapa region. “For us, it was an area not overly advertised, spoken of, or visited by friends or whānau, but a need for remote beaches, vast vistas, and good wine drove us right over the windy Remutaka Ranges into the heart of beautiful Kiwi country and some of the nicest folk in the land.”

When did you visit?

We made our way from the hustle and bustle of Wellington in late May this year. We had been touring the motu for around six months by this point, and although we needed to collect parcels, do bits on the motorhome, etc. in a big city, as gorgeous as Wellington is, we longed for quiet so that’s where we chose to venture. We initially parked up in the town of Featherston, at a freedom camp, Lyon’s Street POP. We thought Featherston quaint, perhaps untouched for a while but calm, safe, and worth a stop. Just a short drive from the township, we fell upon Lake Wairarapa, Lake Domain Reserve Freedom Camp. What a spot – just beautiful.

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Wairarapa Tasman Travels
Discovering Putangirua Pinnacles

What appealed to you about the region before you went there?

Honestly, we just wanted to tick off another region of Te Ika-a-Māui on our tiki tour. It wasn’t until we spent a couple of nights here and studied the area online, if we had signal, or in one of our books that we realised how much the Wairarapa has to offer for the traveller.

We quite often plod along at a turtle’s pace, venturing to every township, settlement, beach, and bushland available by road. We knew we wanted to visit Martinborough, for the wine, although, it wasn’t until we arrived that we realised what a stunning wine region it was – and, of course, Castlepoint Beach where we married will forever be special.

What were some of the unexpected places you discovered?

Ocean Beach, across from Lake Onoke. Goodness! what a raw and rugged, yet stunning part of the Wairarapa. There’s a freedom camp there for self-contained vehicles, right next to the black sand beach. There’s also a DOC (Department of Conservation) campsite further down, but the water was too high to cross. We had two or three beautifully peaceful and scenic nights here, despite the ever-changing dramatic weather and waves.

Wairarapa Tasman Travels
Unforgettable views at Castlepoint

What are your must-do/must-see recommendations for others planning to visit?

All of it, don’t miss a thing. Go for a bushwalk in the Putangirua Pinnacles, stay the night at the DOC camp if you’re in a rig. Climb the 253 steps to Cape Palliser Lighthouse – the views are worth it. Stop and see the seal colony en route back for a night at the Ngawi freedom camp, again if you’re in a rig.

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Don’t miss rugged Ocean Beach, even if it’s just for some driftwood. Go for lunch at The White Swan in Greytown. Go for a wine tasting at three uniquely beautiful and different wineries, Ata Rangi, Le Grá, and On Giants’ Shoulders, then chill out for the evening at Cool Change Bar & Eatery. But most of all, take a stroll at Castlepoint Beach and breathe it all in.


Before you leave the Wairarapa, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre, a glorious, spiritual, and educational sanctuary is also a must-visit.

Where did you park and any recommendations?

We stayed in a mixture of places, as always from Council-run freedom camps, POPs for NZMCA members, and – our favourite – DOC campsites. Somewhere else worth mentioning though is Martinborough Golf Club. Martinborough only has an overpriced holiday park, but with prior arrangement and agreement, if you’re in a self-contained motorhome/caravan and if they can accommodate, the Golf Club is safe, quiet, and low-cost. Give Kris a call beforehand.

Wairarapa Tasman Travels
The unexpected Stonehenge Aotearoa

Were there any misconceptions you had about Wairarapa?

A friend said, ‘There’s nothing there’. Couldn’t be more wrong.

What were some of your best food experiences?

The White Swan in Greytown. The food and the service from Jaime and the team was wonderful and what a lovely setting.

What were some of the touristy things you did and would recommend?

A visit to Cobblestones Museum in Greytown – extremely well-put-together and very interesting and interactive.

What was the most unexpected part of this trip?

Falling in love with the Wairarapa.

For more Tom and Jordan adventures, follow tasmantravels.com.

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