South WairarapaCommunity profile
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South Wairarapa District

About the profile areas

The 2018 population for South Wairarapa District is 10,575, with a population density of 0.04 persons per hectare.


Note: This page displays the area boundaries used for the 2018 Census. In some cases, these are significantly different to the pre-2018 areas. For more on this, see the Census 2018 page.

Location and boundaries

The South Wairarapa District Council area is located at the southern tip of the North Island, about 70 kilometres east of the Wellington CBD. The South Wairarapa District Council area is bounded by the Carterton District in the north, the Pacific Ocean in the east, Cook Strait in the south, and Hutt City, Upper Hutt City and the Kāpiti Coast District in the west.

Name origin

South Wairarapa District Council is named after Lake Wairarapa, which is named from Māori words meaning 'glistening water'.

Profile areas
South Wairarapa District

Settlement history

European settlement dates from the 1840s, with the first New Zealand sheep station established in Wharekaka (near present day Martinborough) in 1844. Land was used mainly for sheep and cattle farming. The township of Greytown was established in 1854, Featherston in 1857, and Martinborough in 1881. The railway line was constructed in the 1880s, prompting growth. A military camp operated at Featherston during WWI, then becoming a Prisoner of War camp during WWII. From the early 1900s Greytown became a prominent fruit growing area, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s, with Martinborough becoming known for grape growing and wine making from the 1970s. Population growth took place from the immediate post-war years, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s. The population of the Council area was relatively stable from the 1980s, with the population remaining less than 9,000 people between 1996 and 2006. The population then increased slightly to about 9,500 in 2013.

Land use

The South Wairarapa District Council area is predominantly rural, with small townships at Featherston, Greytown and Martinborough. Rural land is used largely for sheep and dairy farming, vineyards and olive growing, with substantial areas of forest parks. Fishing is also an important industry. The South Wairarapa District Council area encompasses a total land area of about 2,500 square kilometres.


The South Wairarapa District Council area is served by State Highway 2, State Highway 53 and the Wairarapa railway line.

Major features

Major features of the Council area include Lake Wairarapa, Lake Onoke, Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Park, Aorangi Forest Park, Rimutaka Forest Park, Tararua Forest Park, Ocean Beach, Whangaimoana Beach, Featherston Heritage Museum, Fell Locomotive Museum, Mainly Military Museum, Martinborough Colonial Museum, The Cobblestones Museum, the Ruamahanga River, Featherston Golf Club, Martinborough Golf Club, Tauherenikau Racecourse, Cape Palliser Lighthouse, Putangirua Pinnacles and numerous wineries and vineyards.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of the South Wairarapa area were the Māori people.

Included areas

The South Wairarapa District Council area includes the localities of Featherston, Greytown, Inland Water-Lake Wairarapa, Kahutara, Martinborough and Tuturumuri.