Weekend Getaway to Mount Bruce
by Helen Cordery
You’ve done it. The tickets are booked, bags are packed and now you’re wondering what amazing things you can do while on your weekend getaway to Mount Bruce, New Zealand. You’ve picked the best spot to unwind and connect with nature as this area straddles both the Wairarapa and Tararua districts. There’s plenty to do on State Highway 2!
You may feel overwhelmed at first when you hear how many amazing walks this region offers! You may like to try the Pūkaha Loop Track (2 hours) or you may like to have a go at hiking in Tararua Forest Park. There are a number of family-friendly walks that depart from the Kiriwhakapapa campsite that wind you through gorgeous forests of native trees and towering redwoods. There is the Kiri Whakapapa Loop Track (1 hour), an easy walk through regenerating rimu trees, or the tramp to the Blue Hut (2 hours one way) that has stunning views out over the Tararuas.
The Tui Brewery. This is an iconic kiwi site and the home of Tui beer. If you buy a guided tour you will learn all about the beermaking process and the unique history of Tui, or you can pop in for lunch at the restaurant. Make sure you have your photo taken in front of the Tui sign and have a go making your own phrases (you’ll see what we mean when you get there). The Tui Brewery is located 30km from Pūkaha and takes about half an hour.
Daily specials at the revamped Kākā Café. We work with what’s in season and update our menu every month. Keep your eye out for warming winter soup, white hot chocolate, and steaming bowls of mac & cheese.
Our Café is not only about the food. From the deck, you have the best vantage point over our takahē enclosure. Takahē have been bred at Pūkaha since the 1960s when the National Wildlife Service moved from Elwyn Welch’s Mount Bruce farm to Pūkaha.
In Spring and Summer, the deck often gets crowded with visitors of another kind entirely … kākā! These cheeky North Island parrots are some of the very special wild birds that were reintroduced into the Pūkaha reserve in 1996. Just be careful with your scone – our kākā are very fond of cheese!
This region is well-known for its fresh produce and local wine varietals so while you are here you might want to consider buying some to take home. If you can make it to Featherston (50 minutes from Pūkaha), you can browse the second-hand bookshops for which the town is famous or try their renowned cheese shop.
The gift shop at Pūkaha is constantly being revamped. We are proud to work with Hedley’s Bookshop in Masterton and Huia Books to ensure that our book display is one of the best you will find anywhere, with plenty of scientific books alongside Māori content and picture books. Buy art from local photographer, Tara Swan or ceramic keep cups made by Kate’s Kombucha. You’ll be spoilt for choice!
Unwind and relax at Mount Bruce Lodge, just 5 minutes from Pūkaha. This is the perfect option for honeymooners, wedding parties, and visiting couples wanting that extra touch of care and comfort. Stay in either the Big House or the Little House, wake to the aroma of fresh bread, or relax in the tub with a glass of the Wairarapa’s finest.
When you aren’t busy relaxing or exploring, check out the gallery on-site which features batique artwork created by Julie Donvin-Irons, and which was opened to the public by Masterton mayor, Lyn Patterson.
For more on Mount Bruce Lodge, have a read of this article here.
Before you go
This is really just scratching the surface. In Masterton make sure you wander around the tranquil grounds of Queen Elizabeth Park followed by lunch at Don Luciano Cafe (authentic meals from Honduras as well as their signature Gracias coffee).
Further afield is the charming town of Greytown known for its boutique stores while inland at Martinborough you can stop at for tastings and lunch in one of the wineries.
Don’t forget to pop in to Pūkaha while you’re here and give our Guided Tour a go. This is the best way for you to learn about the conservation work we do and we guarantee that you will walk away with a renewed love of te wao, our forest. Enjoy your trip!