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The Carterton district is located in the Wairarapa between Greytown and Masterton and has an area of 1,145 square kilometres. Originally known as Three Mile Bush, Carterton was established in 1857 to house workers building the road between Greytown and Masterton. Carterton district is bounded by the Waiohine River to the south and the Waingawa River to the north and stretches from the Tararua Ranges to the west and to the Pacific Ocean to the east. Carterton is divided into two wards being urban and rural. The 2001 census recorded a total population of 6878, with 4014 people residing in the Carterton urban area and 2859 people residing in the rural area. Further statistical information of Carterton district can be obtained from www.stats.govt.nz.
Mt Holdsworth situated in the Carterton district is the main entry point into the Tararua Forest Park. The Waiohine Gorge also situated in Carterton gives access to the Tararuas and has the longest swing bridge of its type in New Zealand. Gladstone and East Taratahi are rural communities to the east and northeast of Carterton urban area where grape and olive growing is thriving. Further east from the Maungaraki Ranges to the coast forestry is becoming increasingly predominant. The rural land on the western side of the urban area is predominantly used for traditional pastoral farming.
Situated at Waingawa north of Carterton township adjacent to the boundary of the Waingawa River is industrial land which is the location of two significant wood processing mills and several smaller operations associated with wood processing, a transport business and road construction firm. State Highway II passes through the centre of the urban commercial area and is the main route to link Carterton with its neighbours to the south and north. Carterton district's roading network comprises 269.7 kms of sealed roads and 167.6 kms of unsealed roads excluding the State Highway. The nearest large metropolitan areas are Wellington and Palmerston North both approximately a 1.5 hours drive from Carterton. Tranz Rail provides a rail service from the Wairarapa to Wellington for the increasing number of commuters residing in the Wairarapa.
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