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Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Time to reflect on some of the good things

In a week where there seems to have been nothing but bad news, a long weekend is also an opportunity to reflect on what is going well.

Waitangi weekend is a time to think about nationhood, unity, and New Zealand’s identity. For most, it is also a time for families and friends to get together, kick back, and have a good time. Three days off in the middle of summer is a great way to extend that end-of-year break, enjoy the long warm days and take advantage of what the region has to offer. And thousands of visitors are heading to Wairarapa this weekend to take advantage of just that.

A quick search on bookings giants AirBnB and Booking.com yesterday morning confirms what those who live here already know – the region is in pole position to claim the trophy for the best place in New Zealand’s central region to live, work and play. Especially play. There is no accommodation at all on AirBnB in Martinborough, Greytown, Featherston, Gladstone, and Carterton this weekend, and only six spots were available as of yesterday morning in total – all but one in Masterton. Over on Booking.com, there was even less availability, with all but one place fully booked across Wairarapa as a whole.

In addition to the excellent hiking in Tararua, the great beaches at Castlepoint and along the south coast at Tora and Cape Palliser, there is much to enjoy. Award-winning wineries in Martinborough and local, fresh, organic produce – grown right here and served up at local eateries. This weekend, there are almost too many events to list. But I’ll try.

First up, a visit to the Martinborough fair today is recommended. Stallholders from across New Zealand, as well as a number of locals, will have their wares on sale. For those uninterested in shopping, there will be a good selection of food trucks for a quick and interesting snack. Others, who prefer watching the world go by sipping a coffee, or tipple of choice, can simply hang out at Cool Change or the Martinborough Hotel – both on Martinborough’s Square. All the action will be right there.

After having dinner at one of the region’s eateries, people can simply look skywards to enjoy one of the best stargazing experiences in the world. Last month, Wairarapa was awarded Dark Sky Reserve status, one of only two such areas in New Zealand, the other being Stewart Island. These are two of only 20 night-sky reserves across the globe, and recognise local efforts to preserve the region’s pristine night skies for future generations. With broad community support, the successful Wairarapa Dark Sky Association-led initiative has helped ensure the region’s dark skies would not degrade. Other regional attractions over the three days include a family-friendly transport exhibition at Clareville and the races at Tauherenikau.

So this weekend, while not forgetting the big issues like climate change, degrading infrastructure, floods, the increasing cost of living, and the housing crisis, it’s also a good time to remember what is going well – and for those not working, to enjoy the break.

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