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Kiwi towns

What’s so great about Carterton

  • 4 minutes

Carterton, New Zealand

Best bits, a kiwi town

Carterton there are plenty of things to do. State Highway two is the main thoroughfare encouraging drivers to whizz past the second settlement after the Remutaka hill descent. Carterton deserves more than a whisk and whisper of tyres. The Classic NZ Wine Trail embraces Carterton and nearby vineyards. The town is a favourite for artists with balmy summer weather, nearby urban Wellington with the countryside stimulating creative juices. The original and one and only Stonehenge Aotearoa is a significant attraction together with heritage museums, innovative art galleries and cafes.

@stonehenge.aotearoa @Jun Zhou
@Stonehenge Aotearoa / Jun Zhou


  • Stonehenge Aotearoa, biculturalism in a concrete stone plinth circle. Maori solstice and European celestial star beliefs are to be found in a paddock nearby
  • Daffodil capital, a blaze of spring cheery yellow nodding flowers
  • Interesting second hand shops where browsing is considered an art form
  • Railway Museum and historic precinct is nearby cafes and art galleries to linger in

Stonehenge Aotearoa, a contemporary reimagined interpretation of Stonehenge (England) built on a panoramic site is a great showstopper for Carterton. Star Safari in Wairarapa is a weekend evening with the stars at Stonehenge. Learn at Star-Safari’s state of the art portable planetarium on Saturday mornings to learn how to find Matariki (Maori solstice) and what’s shining bright above our heads.

TIP: Year round activity and not weather dependent.

The Carterton Railway Museum is part of the Historic Carterton Railway Station Precinct. The precinct has railway memorabilia from the late 1870/80’s as well as rural agricultural items from the region.


  • Art buffs have two venues worth a detour: Red Moa Gallery invites visitors to linger over emerging and locally established artists and Heart of Arts with a great selection of kiwi gifts and art objects.


  • Rhondda Greig Studio Gallery, positioned in an enchanting garden has the bonus of sculptural objects of respected ceramic artist James Greig.
@Carterton Railway Museum
@Carterton Railway Museum


  • Tikara Country Gardens is a 5 acre stroll past Japanese maples, spring / early summer Iris, Roses, and flowering annuals. Lavender Abbey Boutique Lavender Products has great products for hard to please family and friends gift ideas. Local weekend markets Lavender Abbey is sure to be a stockist. Check the online store and lavender fans calendar ‘pick your own lavender’ day.


  • Sir Bob Charles, the left-handed golfer & winner of international tournaments
  • Georgina Beyer, the world’s first transgender mayor.


  • Wairarapa A&P Show is held nearby Clareville Showgrounds, a classic annual event in many rural communities.
  • Oversew Fashion Award is gorgeous repurposed clothing upcycled from pre-worn. This annual event is ticketed and very popular with Wellington locals.
  • The Wheelbarrow Race (March).
  • Lavender Abby, holds ‘Pick Your Own Lavender” days
Pick Your Own Lavender, Carterton, New Zealand @LavenderAbbey
Pick Your Own Lavender @LavenderAbbey
Daffodils spring, New Zealand
Daffodils spring


Superb local website inspiring visitors to explore the district.


  • Daffodils is a no brainer, the rest of the year pick one of the interesting, scenic local walks for a nature fix


  • Catch the steam train, pick daffodils and enjoy the Carterton street market as part of the town’s family friendly daffodil festival.
  • Carrington Park in the heart of town off High St has play equipment for all ages including a scooter park, flying fox and a fenced toddler area
  • Carterton Mountain Bike park
@Carterton Railway Museum
@Carterton Railway Museum



Farming settlement on the Mangahuia Stream, 15 km south-east of Carterton. Gladstone is part of the Wairarapa tourist and wine trail, with cafés, a winery, a wheelwright shop and several homestays. Every spring a Scarecrow Festival is held in the fields. Nearby is the Hurunui-o-Rangi marae. The settlement was named after the 19th-century British prime minister William Gladstone. Source Ben Schrader, ‘Wairarapa places – Carterton’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Carterton – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

The town clock of Carterton, New Zealand
The town clock of Carterton


  • Started as a housing settlement for road workers in the mid 1850’s. Originally named Three Mile Bush, the town was renamed in 1859 by local philanthropist Charles Rooking Carter, a member of the Wellington Provincial Council.


  • Rural business and farming with tourism an important part of the overall economy. The majority of visitors are from regional lower North Island, New Zealand.


  • 7,650

Wellington to Napier road trip town (Kiwi places, big stories)


Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Wellington & Wairarapa Region nearby attractions and events.


Need to stretch the legs, then Fenshaw Reserve or the Carter Scenic Reserve are short flat easy walks. Great for kids to bounce off some energy.


Waiohine Gorge has summer favourite swimming holes and one of the longest swing bridges in New Zealand.

  • Gentle Annie Loop Track – 3-4 hour round trip. One of the most popular day trips in the park is the climb to Mountain House Shelter along the easy grade of the Gentle Annie Track.
  • Tararua Forest Park provides Wellington, Wairarapa, Horowhenua and Manawatu with an outstanding variety of tramping, hunting and walking opportunities in a wild, natural landscape.
  • Fensham Reserve – 1-2 hours return Just outside of Carterton Fensham reserve is a large loop track that takes you through towering native trees and it’s one of the best walks in the Wairarapa for families.
  • Carter Scenic Reserve – 30 minutes Follow the boardwalk through a recovering wetland and remnant of flooded forest at Carters Reserve just outside on Carterton.
Carter Scenic Reserve, New Zealand @Carter Reserve15
Carter Scenic Reserve @Carter Reserve15
  • Waiohine Gorge The Waiohine River has carved out a spectacular gorge, bisecting the landscape and setting an attractive backdrop. The suspension bridge spanning the gorge forms a spectacular gateway to the Tararua Forest Park.
Amalgamated Helicopters, Carterton, New Zealand @wairarapanz
Amalgamated Helicopters @wairarapanz


  • Carterton Shuttles offer personal shuttle services right across Wairarapa, as well as transport to Wellington or Palmerston North airport in a comfortable 9-seater shuttle or cab for 4 people. From weddings and parties to transport for school groups and the elderly, they can do it all at highly competitive prices and with great customer service every time. ​
  • Amalgamated Helicopters The best way to get a view of and access the Wairarapa’s Tararua and Rimutaka Forest Parks, rivers, gorges, lakes, valleys and remote huts is by air.


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