The district comprises the floodplain of the Ruamahanga River and the associated Lake Wairarapa.
The Wairarapa fault runs along to the west of the district. This fault is one of five major active faults in the Wellington region. The Wairarapa Fault last ruptured in 1855, generating an 8.2 magnitude earthquake that caused extensive damage and killed between 7 and 9 people.
The South Wairarapa District is home to around 10,575 people. While it is predominantly rural, the district has three towns; Martinborough, Greytown and Featherston. Martinborough is the centre of a significant wine making industry.