From Napier, follow State Highway 2 north for two hours.
- Old Portland Island Lighthouse, Marine Parade (beside the bridge). The lighthouse was shifted to Wairoa from Portland Island at the tip of Mahia Peninsula.
- The third Wairoa bridge. The other two were washed away.
- Go to the restored fantastic Gaiety Theatre and watch a movie with one of the best sound systems in New Zealand
- Chase the wild birds on the Marine Parade. The marine parade isn’t actually beside the sea, but it is where the river widens before forming a lagoon. All sorts of interesting stuff (100 year old trees and the like) are washed down the river.
- Tramp Waikaremoana, Te Urewera National Park. Inland from Wairoa is Te Urewera National Park and Lake Waikaremoana. If you like hiking/tramping this is a stunning walk that can be done in three to four days (or one if you run the whole way). You need to take all the supplies you'll need for the three days including food, fuel and medical kits.
The town has four ATM machines but it’s probably not a good idea to carry too much cash with you. Many merchants in the surrounding region do not have EFTPOS meaning you need to pay in cash. The town has a few boutique shops that are owner-operated and the town is virtually untouched by large chain stores.
Food in Wairoa is mostly good, as it reaps the quality benefits of being near the East Cape.
- Cafe 287, 287 State Highway 2 (on the road to Napier, 2.5 km from the built-up area). Looks across the road to the Wairoa River.
- EastEnd Cafe and Bar, 250 Marine Parade.
- Osler's Bakery and Cafe, 116 Marine Parade. Consistently exceptional. On average it has the best pies (a meat filling packed inside pastry) available anywhere in New Zealand. A must stop. Last count they had about 56 pie awards. Many diverse flavours such as 'Boil up' (reflecting the local culture), 'Ostrich' and 'Cock' (trust them, they are the experts).
- Riverside Motor Camp, 19 Marine Parade.
- Three Oaks Motel, cnr Campbell St & Clyde Rd, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. As you enter Wairoa there is a sign for it. Bookings generally not necessary. From $105.
- Vista Motor Lodge, 2 Bridge St (north side of the river). Has on-site licensed restaurant. From $110.