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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]


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After the somewhat tiring, though decidedly interesting, train ride over the Rimutaka mountains, the traveller experiences a pleasant feeling of rest when, turning his back on the hills and vales, he sees ahead the great Wairarapa, plain, relieved by the lake on the right and the town of Featherston on the left. If possible, the tourist should certainly stay a few days in Featherston. The hotels are good, and the lake is well worth a visit, an excellent drive of about twenty miles being obtainable on its margin. The marshy approaches so disappointing at the Featherston end are displaced by an excellent beach at a point about twelve miles away. There are many other places of interest which may be reached by vehicular or other means of locomotion. The roads, in the main, are suitable for cycling. In the holiday season it is no uncommon thing for a dozen or twenty cyclists to leave Wellington in the early morning for a tour in the Wairarapa, reaching Featherston in the afternoon. Pedestrians have no difficulty in discovering most enjoyable walks. The hills, many of them bush-clad, are quite Black and white photograph of Featherston and surrounding countryside page 849
Courthouse, Featherston.

Courthouse, Featherston.

close to the town, and charming views of surroundings are obtainable.

Kaiwaiwai, Martinborough, Kahautara, Lake Ferry, and numerous other places between Featherston and the East Coast all look upon Featherston as their headquarters, and all their trade comes this way.

Tauherenikau, some three miles on the road to Greytown, is mainly known for its splendid racecourse, which occupies a hundred-acre reserve. There are special training tracks and all conveniences. Races are held twice a year, and are exceedingly popular, attracting visitors from all parts—from Wellington in the south to Woodville and even Napier in the north. There is a fine stretch of natural bush in the racecourse reserve, which is specially attractive to picnic parties.

Featherston itself is well provided with reserves. The Domain, within five minutes' walk of the station, has an extent of fifty-seven acres. It is exceedingly pretty, having a good deal of natural bush, besides open parts suitable for games and sports. Within two minutes' walk from the station is the sports reserve proper—a beautiful grassed level paddock immediately opposite the Empire Hotel.

Featherston has a fine town hall, with a good stage and all requisites for concerts and theatrical performances.

The new courthouse is decidedly ornamental.

The real distance from Wellington to Featherston by rail is about forty-five miles, but for tariff purposes it is counted by the Railway Department at fifty, a little over five miles being theoretically added to the mileage to cover the increased cost of working that portion of the line known as the “Wairarapa incline,” between the Summit and Cross Creek. The real distance is about two miles and fifty-six chains, and the difference in altitude between the two places is 871 feet, which gives an average grade of one in sixteen and a fraction. “As the crow flies,” page 850 Featherston is but little over thirty miles from the Capital, and as the variation in latitude between the two places is less than half that, it follows that the trend is more east than north. Notwithstanding that the formidable Tararua Range lies between Featherston and the West Coast, the distance to the East Coast is greater by a few miles. Carterton and Greytown are almost midway between the two coasts, while Masterton is somewhat nearer the east, the central position being regained at Eketahuna, and maintained by the proposed line to Woodville.

There is abundant room for Featherston to grow. The area of the town is about 800 acres, exclusive of streets, but including nearly 100 acres of reserves. The streets are wide and straight, and the roads in every direction are splendid.

The Churches are represented by the Episcopal, Roman Catholic, and Wesleyan places of worship; the Masons, Oddfellows, and Knights of Labour have lodges; and local government is maintained by the Featherston Road Board, the Featherston Town Board, and the South Wairarapa River Board.