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Wellington to Napier Weekend Road Trip

Explore a museum dedicated to a single locomotive engine. You will pass through places where locals outnumber visitors and the town might only have a permanent population of 300 people.

  • From Featherston as you drop down from the Rimutaka hills into the Wairarapa with its vineyards, rolling farmland then its onto the southern Hawke’s Bay. 
  • Take time to wander through Eketahuna, a typical small kiwi town with a ‘Eke’ story unique to the passionate residents. Naturally  Pukaha, National Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre as a highlight.  
  • ONGAONGA is the location for a fascinating collection of vintage buildings. 
  • Waipukurau and Waipawa trip guide, best things to do & see has an outstanding museum detailing the history of the area. Waipupukaru is where one of New Zealand’s memorial gardens is worth a detour among the grave markers and trees remembering loved one.
  • The flourish is at the end with Napier art deco beauty a great way to finish your road trip.

Trip Overview

Scenic Side Roads, North Island


  • Extraordinary tales of prisoner of war camps and mutinies
  • Towns where time stood still leaving 19th century buildings in its wake
  • National Wool museum has a great gift shop and is an excellent place to understand what underpins the New Zealand economy
  • Iconic Tui Brewery tour on the cards
  • A town where the locals own the grocery store, manage the medical centre and have an enormous kiwi as their centrepiece
  • Finishing with a flourish in the beautiful art deco town of Napier

Duration: 3 days
Start Wellington
Finish Napier
Year round


Wellington can be chilly even in summer while the Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay is characterised with warm dry summers. Winter rains and the chilly wind means clothing layers however it is unlikely temperatures will drop below 10c on winter days.

The best time to explore Wellington to Napier via the Wairarapa and southern Hawke’s Bay is year round as the temperate climate and plenty of indoor activities means there is anyways somewhere to go that’s warm and dry.

Combine a main street walk with an exploration of the shops from independently owned bookshops, sweetshops, homeware and a coffe in one of the many streetside cafes. Greytown shops are located in pretty restored nineteenth century buildings strung along the main street. The town has adroitly marketed its charm as a destination for Wellingtonians.

For locals Greytown is a break from Wellington’s Lambton Quay. Rural countryside peeps between shops reminding visitors of the nearby countryside. For Australians and New Zealanders the town is an excellent example of a nineteenth century shopping street that has withstood the ravages of time.

Each building is marked with plaques describing the original owner and the story of occupation.


Detailed tiny tin soldiers carry the flag in Greytown waiting for the perfect owner in the Imperial Productions workshop. To find out more about what to do and see in … Greytown day shopping trip, travel guide, what to do & see: Best Bits


Now here’s a hui (feast) we missed out on. The 1911 memorial unveiling to Hamuera Tamahau Mahupuku at Papawai Marae was attended by 6,000 people. Accompanying hui menu included 275 sheep, 20 cows, 45 suckling pigs, 48 ton of potatoes, plus assorted poulty.


Wairarapa where to take great selfies and sunset photo locations – Best Bits


  • The Wool Shed National Museum
  • Pukaha National Wildlife Centre
  • TUI Brewery Visit
  • Dannevirke
  • Ormondville Station



In 1920 Prince of Wales (briefly Edward VIII) of Mrs Simpson fame toured the colonies. The train stopped in Eketahuna for water, however he did not make an appearance. Annoyed locals burnt effigies of bureaucrats responsible for the oversight. To send a clear message, fire bells were rung.

Ongaonga heritage butcher shop and dwellings, Ongaonga historic park, Central Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Ongaonga heritage butcher shop and dwellings, Ongaonga historic park, Central Hawke's Bay

Ongaonga Historical Society manages a collection of historic buildings including the original School house, Jail, Butcher and Settler’s hut. Download the heritage trail and take a self-guided walking tour. On Sundays between 1pm and 4pm, the Ongaonga Museum, historic buildings and Coles Brothers Building are open to the public, giving you the chance to delve a little deeper into the historic village’s history, and chat to the locals who are brimming with history and local information.

Picnic in the museum gardens under the shade of mature trees. Artists and arty crafty people call Ongaonga Village home and there are several small shops and outlets marketing unique, one of a kind objects and memorabilia.

More about Ongaonga



Check out the exquisite historic Anglican Church of Epiphany (built 1891).



  • Forest of Memories
  • Central Hawkes Bay Museum
  • Waipawa Settlers Museum
  • Ongaonga heritage streetscape
  • Mission Estate exclusive Winery Lunch, Tasting and Tour

Book a Wine Tour:



Wellington, the seat of government and the home of the National Museum, Te Papa. Wellington is a compact and walkable city. With a downtown area only 2 km across, most of the major attractions are within easy walking distance from the hotels, cafés, restaurants, bars and shops. A petite picturesque capital city has got a downside. The weather, it is not called Windy Wellington for nothing.  Invest in a Blunt umbrella and think of the weather as invigorating, embracing as it whips your hair into a messy, frizzy mess, Wellington mode.

Layers, especially a light waterproof jacket thigh length is a must. A fabulous city with enormous personality and a sense of community should be on all visitors’ must visit list. Some places are great without a Bondi on their doorstep and Wellington is one of these magical destinations. To find out more … Wellington travel guide, 7 FREE things to see, what to do: Best Bits

The road trip finishes in Napier. From Napier you can choose the following journeys


There is a fierce pride in the story of places, their origins and the landscapes creating unique moments in the holiday experience. In the quiet corners of New Zealand there are tea shops where coffee could be instant and the beat of the economy continues to be on the back of a sheep or milk pail (churn). 

The trip highlights can be covered in a weekend although a slow wander gives you an opportunity to thoroughly explore the side roads of the lower North Island. 

This journey can be reversed, NAPIER TO WELLINGTON


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Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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