Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt

Kiwi towns

What’s so great about Waipu, Northland: what to see, best things to do

  • 3 minutes

Northland, New Zealand

Check out this town for its Scottish kilts, bagpipes and a story of migration

Waipu there are plenty of things to do. The nineteenth century witnessed new immigrants, with an austere protestant belief coupled with a language (Gaelic) and culture arrive in the Waipu district. For the pilgrims a permanent home for the Gaelic speakers beckoned. Farming, Sundays at church, the establishment of Gaelic speaking schools, bagpipes thrived in the new home. Today Highland Games, a museum dedicated to the Highlanders and passionate volunteers tell the story of European migration to Aotearoa NZ.

Waipu Information Plaque, New Zealand
Waipu Information Plaque

Check out what to see and do in Waipu

  • Waipu Saturday market and Waipu Boutique Sunday Market are regular fixtures for market followers. Pop up stalls in the aptly named Coronation Hall and local gift shops offer one of kind goodies for visitors.
  • Glorious Bream Bay with beaches, horse riding, estuaries and space to spare
  • Bird watching hot spots
  • Waipu Cave exploration
  • Waipu Museum is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a charismatic religious leader, his devoted followers and the life they established in Waipu. NZ has its own pilgrim fathers story.

Waipu’s fame

  • Rev Norman McLeod, a Presbyterian minister who led his congregation from the Highlands, to Nova Scotia, then Australia and finally New Zealand. Over 800 settlers arrived in Waipu in the 1850’s. The guy fervently preached against ungodly ways. Either an autocratic demagogue or caring minister opinions are divided over his legacy. Definitely charismatic.
  • Fiona Southorn, who won bronze in cycling at the 2012 London Paralympics.
  • Fiona Kidman’s ‘The book of secrets’ 1987 explores the life of women in a moral bound community.

Waipu’s Notoriety

  • Insider trading, pulling a fast one on the original custodians of the land, could be levelled at James Busby. Busby purchased land in Ruakaka and Waipu in December 1839. This action occurred six weeks before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty particularly excluded private investor purchase of ‘native land.’ Questionable land purchases and failing business ventures dogged James Busby’s life.
  • Fatal Great White shark attack January 2021 Waihi Beach.

Where to take the best selfie in Waipu

  • Call on your inner Gaelic, sword in hand or bagpipe next to Waipu Museum
  • Riverbank NZ scenery, water and ducks the perfect backdrop
  • Waipu Cove to Langs Beach walk along the coastal track for stunning views of the ocean, out to the Hen and Chicken islands as your backdrop
Waipu Museum Celtic cross, New Zealand
Waipu Museum Celtic cross

Festivals in Waipu

  • In July, the village hosts Waipu n Tartan, everything tartan including wearable arts awards.
  • Easter Carnival is a massive school festival.
  • Scottish Highland Games since 1871 New Year has been welcomed with games such as pole throwing and hurdling.
Secluded Empty Beach at Waipu in Northland, New Zealand
Beach at Waipu

Waipu for kids

  • Glow worms in Waipu Caves
  • Bream Bay beaches
  • Ducks at Waihoihoi Reserve with a pretty stream, grassy banks, playground and stone sculptures to clamber over. It’s a great place for families to recoup, recover from the rigors of market stall shopping.

Who turned up and settled in Waipu?

The area was part of the original settlement of New Zealand flowing from East Polynesian ocean explorations. The composite hapu, Patuharakeke, descended from most major iwi groups in the north have their marae located inTakahiwai (16km from Waipu).

Waipu’s name means Wai: water; pu: reddish or brownish in colour.

Waipu’s motto

“Cead Mile Failte” Gaelic for One Hundred Thousand Welcomes.

On the way past Waipu, going North to Cape Reinga
On the way past Waipu property identification
Waipu Museum exhibit, New Zealand
Waipu Museum exhibit

Waipu’s social Media

What makes Waipu work?

  • Agricultural service centre. There are several manufacturers based in Waipu district from Northland Steel Products and Zego Boats employing locals.

Climate in Waipu

Sub-tropical Northland climate. Waipu, Northland, New Zealand 10-Day Weather Forecast.

Best time to go to Waipu

Year round as the superb Waipu Museum is a great indoor activity together with gift shops and cafes to linger in.

Population in Waipu

2,712 (2018)

Be careful in Waipu

Temptation of cute baby booties at the local market stall. Remember you actually do not know any babies.

Judgment in Waipu

A great day trip from Whangarei or Auckland. For dedicated market buffs perhaps a day or two. Definitely worth the detour off state highway one.

Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Far North & Northland Region nearby attractions and events.

Waipu Anglician Church, New Zealand
Waipu Anglician Church

Getting to Waipu


  • James Busby (British Resident, government servant) purchased for 40 pounds and some other items including 60 blankets for about 100,000 acres in the vicinity of Waipu. It is very likely owners felt they were bestowing the right of land use, not permanent loss of ownership. Bushy pushed the sale only six weeks before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed (prohibiting sale of land to private investors). Busby was one of the architects of the Treaty which has sometimes been overlooked with land claims and economic woes dominating his lifestory.
  • Rev Norman McLeod filed a land application with the Commissioner of Crown Lands on 26 November 1853, It was unsuccessfully challenged by James Busby.
  • Tempted to move to Bream Bay, check out Waipu and Bream Bay Coastal Paradise in Northland New Zealand a treasure trove of useful information about the district. Check out this endearing tale of fairy terns (bird) The Private Lives of Fairy Terns
  • Patuharakeke Trust Board for visitors who would like to know more about the hapu of Waipu.



Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

Related articles


If you have a query about content, travel deals or anything else, our team is happy to answer all your questions 🙂

    Your information is secure, no third party involved.
    100% Safe, secure, privacy guaranteed. Privacy Policy.