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10 Unmissable Things to Do in Wairoa

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What to do in Wairoa.

It’s Hawke’s Bay’s coolest little town! Wairoa is the hub of the Northern Hawke’s Bay district providing proximity to fishing, hiking, surfing, horse treks and more. Plus, the town itself is well worth exploring for its museum, gallery, architecture and great eateries. So while you’re road tripping through Hawke’s Bay, what are the things to do in Wairoa?

Wairoa makes an awesome base for trips to the wild and wonderful Te Urewera and Lake Waikaremoana, the beach haven of the Mahia Peninsula, and the indulgent Morere Hot Springs. There’s also plenty of things to do in the town itself. For more things to do in Wairoa beyond what is listed below, check out our Wairoa – Guide for Backpackers.

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1. Get pics of the Wairoa Lighthouse

Let’s start with Wairoa’s iconic building, the Wairoa Lighthouse. The lighthouse sat in the middle on town alongside the river is a perfect picture opportunity and a must-visit in Wairoa. It’s best seen at sunset when the light of the lighthouse starts to blink.

Location: Next to the State Highway 2 bridge.
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2. Visit the Wairoa Museum

It’s surprising how much is packed into this small town museum. Check out awesome artifacts from Maori and European history in the Wairoa area, as well as fossils and other relics of natural history. The Wairoa Museum is open Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm and Saturdays 10am – 12pm. Entry is by cash donation (where the donation box is an experience in itself).

Location: 142 Marine Parade.
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3. Take a trip to Lake Waikaremoana

Wairoa is the closest town to the wild and remote Lake Waikaremoana in Te Urewera. It’s the ultimate wilderness escapes famed for its waterfalls, largest tract of native rainforest in the North Island, and the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. Check out some of the awesome walks in our 17 Stunning Lake Waikaremoana Walks and more things to do in Te Urewera – Guide for Backpackers.

Location: 63km from Wairoa. Take State Highway 38 north.
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4. Do the Wairoa Township Riverside Walkway

Wairoa is a quaint riverside town and the best way to see it is along the Wairoa Township Riverside Walkway. The walk is 1h30mins one way starting from the Wairoa Lighthouse. Follow the southern bank to Pilot Hill for awesome views of the coast.

Location: Wairoa Riverside.
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5. Indulge in the Morere Hot Springs

Morere is home to lush coastal forest filled with palm trees called Nikau (meaning “no coconuts” in Maori). In the midst of the forest lies mineral hot pools to soak in with water pumped from the local hot spring. Morere Hot Springs Scenic Reserve is a great place for bush walks and an off-the-beaten track hot pools experience.

Location: 40km from Wairoa west on State Highway 2.
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6. Go horse trekking at the “Seven Whales”

The neighbouring village of Iwitea is home to the legend of the “Seven Whales”. Learn about this and more about the Maori culture on a horse trek in Iwitea. Ride through wetlands, streams, black sand beached and even up hills with your guides from Out on a Lim.

Location: Iwitea. 10km from Wairoa west on State Highway 2.
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7. Visit the Long River Gallery

See the creations of the Wairoa community in the Long River Gallery. The free community art gallery displays art using materials from the Wairoa area, as well as taking inspiration from the town’s coast and mountains. Pick up an authentic New Zealand souvenir or simply culture yourself!

Location: 94 Marine Parade.
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8. Hit the hiking trails

Caves, beaches, endless waterfalls and did we mention Lake Waikaremoana? Wairoa is surrounded by stunning landscapes that are best explored by foot. Explore the Mangaone Caves, stand under the towering Shine Falls, or delve into the forest of the Mangekawa Track. Get inspiration and details of walks near Wairoa in 8 Walks in Northern Hawke’s Bay You Can’t Miss.

Location: Northern Hawke’s Bay.
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9. Try out the quirky cafes

The best places to experience New Zealand’s cafe culture is in small towns like Wairoa. We recommend the Eastend Cafe for it’s fun vibrant decor and quality menu. Other places to eat include, Oslers Bakery, 2ate7 Cafe and Tui Takeaways for their fresh and tasty fish & chips.

Location: Eastend Cafe 250 Marine Parade, 2ate7 Cafe 287 State Highway 2, Oslers Bakery 116 Marine Parade, and Tui Takeaways 11/15 River Parade.
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10. Road trip around the Mahia Peninsula

The Mahia Peninsula provides that beach vacation vibe. What’s more, it’s the perfect road trip location with lots of roadside attractions across the whole peninsula. Hire a surf board and take advantage of the many surf breaks, get epic views from the Mahia Peninsula Scenic Reserve, and much more that you can check out in 11 Mahia Peninsula Must-Dos.

Location: 50km from Wairoa. Take State Highway 2 west then continue straight across the roundabout in Nuhaka following the road to the Mahia Peninsula.
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