The Wonderful World of Wairoa

August 16

Wairoa is just a little place, but it’s big on culture, activities and natural beauty. As the most northern district in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay, Wairoa occupies a pretty special place in the country.

Where in New Zealand is Wairoa?

Wairoa is found at the northern end of the Hawke’s Bay, in the central North Island. It’s just over an hour to Gisborne in the north, and nearly two hours to Napier in the south. As a town, it’s on the little side, but the Wairoa district is a goldmine of attractions and activities. It sits on the banks of the Wairoa river, and is located spitting distance from a bunch of incredible beaches. It’s known as the base for exploring the Te Urewera National Park, which of course includes the mighty Lake Waikaremoana.


Is the Wairoa district on the East coast?

It sure is, the East Coast of the North Island, in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Being on the East Coast, this means it meets the Pacific Ocean.

What is Wairoa famous for?

It’s the starting block for exploring Te Urewera National park, the most significant national park in New Zealand for Maori. It’s a great place to base yourself if you’re planning on going hiking, hunting or fishing in the park.

Wairoa is famous, of course, for the Wairoa river, for the wooden lighthouse, and for its rich cultural history. Then there’s the wider Hawke’s Bay, which as a region is famous for cycling, food, wine and art, often all enjoyed at the same time. Even at its northern end, there’s always a decent vino and some local food on the menu in the Hawke’s Bay.


What is there to do in Wairoa?

Probably the most popular thing to do in Wairoa is get into the Te Ureweras, a deep and dense national park on the banks of Lake Waikaremoana. Human population, zero. Birdlife? Booming. The Wairoa township itself is pretty small, with a population of around 9000. There’s plenty to do, though. Visit the local museum and learn about the interesting history of the land, and there’s always a good brew of coffee or fresh, creative food on the menu at the cafes in town. Then, take a trip down to Napier, the quirky art-deco capital of New Zealand.

Can you surf at Wairoa?

Like most places in New Zealand, you’re never far from a break in Hawkes Bay. There’s a good one near to where the river mouth links up with the sea, but locals are territorial. Waves with more space can be found about 45 minutes up the coast from Hawkes Bay at Mahia. Be warned, freedom camping doesn’t go down well in these parts, and often lands van-lifers with a fine from the Wairoa district council.

How far is Wairoa from Lake Waikaremoana?

The park and the lake are about an hour inland from town. The DOC website has great information and weather updates to plan your trip around.

What is the meaning of Wairoa?

In te Reo Māori, Wairoa means ‘Long Water’.


How did Wairoa get its name?

It’s believed to be named after the long, gentle river which winds its way through town.

Is Wairoa a nice place to live?

If you ask us, you couldn’t get much better.

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