Masterton is a large town in the Wairarapa, centrally located in the heart of the valley. A trip with the family will delight both young and old. Masterton is a large town in the Wairarapa, and a perfect location for a day out with the kids. While there are activities that most towns and cities have, Masterton has a friendly atmosphere and excellent value for money with so many free activities for the family.
The Home of the Golden Shears
Masterton is the largest town in the Wairarapa, and home to the ‘Golden Shears’, a national Shearing competition. In the midst of rural New Zealand, Masterton is surrounded by farmland, rolling hills, rugged coastlines and plenty of sheep. The drive from Wellington should take around an hour and a half, but a pleasant journey through the hills and countryside.
Queen Elizabeth Park
At the north end of Masterton is Queen Elizabeth Park. If you continue driving on State Highway 2 from Wellington until you reach the large roundabout at the north end of town, you should see the park to your right. Here are pretty rose gardens, large oak trees, walking tracks and other activities. In the center of the park is a lovely cafe, which could well be the source of your picnic lunch. A more cost effective method could be to cross the road to the supermarket. The park has ample free parking.
In the center of the park is the duck pond. Bringing a loaf of bread or picking up an inexpensive loaf is a great way of letting the kids interact with the birds. Mallard ducks will race to join you for lunch, followed by geese, native diving ducks and swans. Get your camera ready as the smiles on young faces will be unmissable as the birds happily feed from their hands.
The Kids-Own Playground was an initiative from the local community, funded by families, to build a safe playground. Here you can all play for free amongst the swings, castles, slides and more adventurous flying foxes. The ground is covered in bark for your own safety. The playground is a stunning example of community spirit and always a hit with the kids.
Queen Elizabeth Park also plays host to a mini-golf course, a miniature train to ride on, paddle boats and deer. Walking around with the family, you will find many things to do.
Genesis Energy Recreation Center
Over the road from the park is the Recreation Center. Inside you will find a number of pools, both for serious swimmers and those looking to unwind. Water slides and the wave pool can keep the kids entertained, while you relax in the spa or sauna. On hot days, head outside into the cooler pool for fresh air, warm weather and a splash in the pool.
Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Center
Heading north on State Highway 2, you will find Pukaha Mount Bruce. This wildlife center is home to native birds and wildlife. You can learn about the species indoors, see them outside, and head into the bush to catch a glimpse in their natural environment. Make sure you are around for the giant eel feeding, as the sight is fascinating and the creatures just as interesting. In the aviary you can see the birds, many rare or endangered, and see how they are being bred in captivity. There is also a cafe on-site, making it easy to catch a bite to eat before heading back to town.
Other Activities in the Town
The town has a number of activities that would be fantastic on rainy days. Climbing walls and the bowling alley are popular, as is the movie theater. For the more adventurous, head up to Mount Holdsworth for an easy tramp and eat lunch at the hut.