Martinborough may only be a small town, but if you’re going to La De Da and you’ve got some time to spare, there are plenty of great activities to do… if you can pull yourself away from the vineyards.
If you haven’t planned for all of your days to involve wine and tasting it, perhaps a trip out to Palliser Bay might take your fancy. This place is one of the earliest Maori occupation sites in New Zealand, and is also the only fur seal colony in the North Island where breeding is well established. If you want to earn some cheese for that wine, or would like a little shapeshifting on your buns, there’s an old lighthouse 250 steps up a hill, with some great views of the coast.
If you’re thinking ‘I know that we’ve got only a little time, so like it or not, we’re gonna be drinking wine’, then the Waiohine Gorge has a number of short tracks suitable for quick, light exercise. There are also several good swimming pools in the river (which are popular for rafting, tubing and kayaking in) so after a splash, you can head back to Lullabye Lane feeling cool and refreshed.
Visiting this place on State Highway 2 between Masterton and Eketahuna is a must. It’s the home of Manukura and Mauriora (the little white kiwi), tuatara, kaka, kokako and some very impressive eels! There’s also a pretty native bush track, with a picnic area at the top so you’ll be able to drink and laugh till you feel right.
Don’t forget to pack a fishing rod—taking a trip out to Castlepoint is a popular place to dangle the line or pull the catch as one. If you’re into one-offs, then you’ll want to take note of the Castlepoint daisy shrub—named this because Castlepoint is the only place in the world it grows. Frequent visitors to the area include dolphins, fur seals and the odd small whale. The lighthouse here is also a drawcard. There are a few walks around the Scenic Reserve and a nice sheltered lagoon for swimming in.