Adventuring in the countryside with Alice & Monsieur Cocoa!

Wellington to Martinborough, in the Wairarapa, is a one and a half hour drive, skirting the beautiful Wellington harbour, continuing along the highway, through Lower and Upper Hutt, before reaching the beautiful area of Kaitoke Regional Park and then ascending the Rimutaka Hill on State Highway 2.

Upper Hutt on SH1There are a couple of beautiful places to stop off before climbing the hill, and since I’ve had a couple of trips over the hill and into the Wairarapa over the past fortnight, I’ve had the pleasure of stopping at a couple of them.

My lovely young companion Alice (nearly 5), as well as our puppy (Monsieur Cocoa), have joined me on the drives and given me all the more of a reason to make a couple of stops.

Wellington south coast

Here’s some of our favourite places –

1. Kaitoke Regional Park

This beautiful park has some stunning walks through native New Zealand flora and is a great place to spot native birds too. The Pakuratahi River offers opportunities to cool down in the crystal clear waters, skim river stones, build dams and admire the scenery.

Swing bridge

Alice didn’t waste any time in testing the temperature of the water, Monsieur Cocoa took a paddle too (and was particularly intrigued by some ducks swimming past).

Taking a dip

Kaitoke Park was chosen as the location for ‘Rivendell‘ in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The site for Rivendell

Little remains of the Rivendell film set, but it’s easy to see why it was chosen and a few signs depict how the area was transformed for filming.


Alice enjoyed seeing how she measured up next to the characters in the Lord of the Rings… a perfect little ‘Hobbit’ size!

Hobbit sized Alice

I haven’t added any filters or digitally modified any of these photographs. The colours speak for themselves. Beautiful hues of green, in a dense canopy of bush, constrasted against a summer blue sky.


2. Harcourt Park

This is a wonderful playground and park in Upper Hutt with something for all ages to climb, swing and balance on. There’s also a marvellous paddling pool (open in the summer) for those hot days when little people need to cool off (Monsieur Cocoa had to make do with splashing in his water bowl).

3. Rimutaka Hill Road summit lookout

The summit of the Rimutaka Hill Road used to be home to a cafe, but that has long gone, and now there is a newly landscaped carpark and view point, for travellers to take a break or a ‘summit snap’. It’s a stunning place (on a fine day) to stop and admire the panoramic views. There are a couple of tracks leading off the summit that I’d love to explore one day too.

Alice at the Rimutaka Hill Road summit

The photograph above was taken looking back towards Wellington, the one below is looking towards the Wairarapa.

Rimutaka Hill Road summit towards the Wairarapa

4. Te Ara Tirohanga (formerly Rimutaka Trig Track)

I haven’t managed to persuade my young Alice do to this track yet – climbing from near the summit of the Rimutaka Hill Road (555m) and climbing to the northern crest of the Rimutaka Range (725m). The last time I enjoyed the opportunity to walk it was when Alice was in utero (three weeks before she was born!), along with my older two daughters (then aged 4 and 7), my husband and my parents (visiting from the UK) – as written about in the post, ‘Over the hill and not so far away…‘.

Rimutaka Trig

From the summit of the Rimutaka Hill Road it’s a windy drive down into the Wairarapa, where the first town is Featherston.

5. Featherston

There’s a little playground we’ve stopped off at a few times (with public toilets), before the final fifteen minute drive to Martinborough in South Wairarapa.

Alice the little climber

The playground has a lovely range of climbing frames, swings, a flying fox and an old tractor.

Alice on the tractor in Featherston

6. Martinborough

Our final destination! This weekend we had a ton of fun as the Martinborough Fair was on. It’s a wonderful fair, with a multitude of amazing stalls offering an eclectic blend of products, from clothing and bow-ties for for dogs to olive oils and bird feeders. Monsieur Cocoa was vey impressed with his new bow-tie.

Monsieur Cocoa

Alice loved the children’s corner and had so much fun, sliding…

Big slide



and bouncing!


After all the fun at the fair, there was time to relax in the beautiful rural scenery and enjoy a simply beautiful evening with young Alice, walking Monsieur Cocoa.

Sunset walk


Linking up with…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall