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Kiwi Towns

5 things to do in Wairoa

  • 2 minutes

Hawkes Bay, North Island

In this Article

Wairoa there are plenty of things to do. Wairoa’s main street borders the Wairoa River making it an attractive place to stretch the legs, take a break from the drive from or to Lake Waikarimonana or further north. The Wairoa regional museum is definitely worth a browse through while the Wairoa Riverside Lighthouse is a photo moment.

@The Gaiety Theatre
@The Gaiety Theatre
  1. Wairoa Gaity Theatre

Wairoa Gaity Theatre is cheerfulness bottled into a theatre in a town where heritage, history and current economic losses are etched into the town’s streetscape. If you are in town overnight the Gaity Theatre is a definite option. Check out what is at the Gaiety Theatre, grab some popcorn and settle down to enjoy a night at the cinema. The theatre is supported with a cadre of passionate volunteers. Gaiety is home to the longest running Maori Film Festival. Perhaps you will even want to stay a few days in Wairoa. A welcome will be part of the package deal.

  1. Wairoa Lighthouse

Wairoa’s iconic building, the Wairoa Lighthouse. The lighthouse sits on its own created rocky space next to the Wairoa bridge and alongside the river. It’s a good place for photo opportunity as well as a distinctive feature of the Wairoa river walk. It’s best seen at sunset when the light of the lighthouse starts to blink.

Wairoa lighthouse, New Zealand
Wairoa Lighthouse
Wairoa River Parade walk, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Wairoa River Parade walk, Hawkes Bay
  1. Riverside walk

The Riverside walk is a meandering walk of approximately 1 ½ hours starting from the Wairoa Lighthouse. The walk follows the southern bank to Pilot Hill. Pilot Hill summit has sweeping views of the estuary and coast. WAIROA river mouth is a classic estuary with currents, eddies and abundant birdlife flourishing in the shallow tidal waters.

  1. Te Reinga Falls

Te Reinga Falls, is it worth the journey of 1 hour? The nondescript reserve leads to a 10 minute walk to the Falls. Unfortunately the views are not the best for the truly magnificent flow of water over several escarpments. Safety is a priority and a recently constructed stout wooden fence stops the adventurous visitor from rock climbing for a better peek at the Falls. For avid waterfall buffs definitely worth the detour. For others enjoy the photographs especially of Edwardian ladies perched on a rock with glorious front row seats to the Falls. The reserve plaques provide an insight into the geological formation of the Falls, historic photographs and safety information.

Te Reinga Scenic Reserve Walk: Gisborne area walks and tracks, Located 35 km inland from Wairoa, just off SH36 (Tiniroto Road). Turn onto Ruakituri Road at Te Reinga, cross the bridge over the river. The car park is at the western end of the bridge. Duration: 1 hour (from Wairoa)

Te Reinga waterfalls Lake Waikarimonana, New Zealand
Te Reinga waterfalls
  1. Coffee break

Coffee break destination in Wairoa is the classic small town bakery of check out the photographs of the bakery festooning the walls. It is a snapshot of the town’s history if the museum is closed. The coffee is great, there are kiwi favourites such as sausage rolls, freshly baked goods such as laminations, custard squares and gooey cheesecake slices. Ask for a paperbag and cross the road to the riverside for an impromptu picnic on the river banks with the locals.


Observe the side streets for street art to liven up commercial buildings. Nothing like a lick of paint and design to add colour to the townscape.

Getting there

Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Napier & Hawkes Bay Region nearby attractions and events.


A service town that supports the agricultural sector Wairoa is not usually viewed as a tourist destination. The town, similar to many rural communities, has witnessed a decline in the main street retail sector. There has been an issue with gang violence which has marked Wairoa in the country’s newspapers as a place steeped in criminal activities. Yet Wairoa is more than headline news. The town of Wairoa got its name from the “Te Wairoa Hōpūpū Hōnengenenge Mātangi Rau” river which in Māori language means “the long water which bubbles, swirls and is uneven”



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