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Wairoa is a town of 5,000 people in northern Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.



The town lies on both sides of the big Wairoa River, with the main part on the south bank. The bridge crossing the river is the third to be here and replaces one that was swept away by Cyclone Bola in 1988.

A panorama of Wairoa showing the Wairoa River to the left

Get in


By car


From Napier, follow State Highway 2 north for two hours.

Get around

Map of Wairoa


Old Portland Island lighthouse
  • 1 Old Portland Island Lighthouse, Marine Parade (beside the bridge). The lighthouse was shifted to Wairoa from Portland Island at the tip of Mahia Peninsula.
  • 2 Wairoa Museum, 142 Marine Parade. M–F 10AM–4PM, 1st Sa of the month 10AM–noon, closed on public holidays. Well presented museum of local history, from early European–Maori contact to recent times. Free entry, donations welcome.


  • 1 Gaiety Theatre, 252 Marine Parade. Go to the fantastic restored 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.
  • Riverside walkway and cycleway. Runs 7.7 km from the lighthouse in the CBD along the south bank of the river to Whakamahia beach. The full walk takes an hour and a half, and biking takes 30 min.
  • Sir James Carroll walkway. A 30-min walk along the north bank of the river opposite the CBD, starting from the bridge.
  • Tramp Waikaremoana. Inland from Wairoa is Te Urewera (formerly a national park) and Lake Waikaremoana. If you like hiking or tramping, this is a stunning walk that can be done in three to four days (or one if you run the whole way). Take all your supplies for the three or four days, including food, fuel, medical kits and toilet paper.



The town has four ATM machines. 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.


  • 1 EastEnd Cafe and Bar, 250 Marine Parade. Tu–Sa 8AM–3PM.
  • 2 Gemmells – Café, Bar and Restaurant, 184 Marine Parade. M Tu 8AM-3PM, W-Sa 8AM-3PM and 5-8PM, Su 8AM-4PM. Opened in Dec 2023.
  • 3 Osler's Bakery and Cafe, 116 Marine Parade. M–F 4:30AM–4:30PM, Sa 6AM–2:30PM. 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).




  • The River Houses, 150 Marine Parade. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Locally owned and run accommodation provider with holiday homes of varying sizes available for short term rent, in the town centre and along the river. Bookings can be made via their website or on Airbnb.
  • Riverside Motor Camp, 19 Marine Parade, +64 6 838 6301. Closed since flood damage in March 2023; call or check website to see if it's open again.
  • Vista Motor Lodge, 2 Bridge St (north side of the river). Has on-site licensed restaurant. From $110.
  • 1 Wairoa Motel, 49 Clyde Rd, +64 6 838 8204, . As you enter Wairoa there is a sign for it. Bookings generally not necessary. From $105.


  • 2 Public toilets, 57 Queen St (one block back from the south side of the river).
  • 3 Public toilets, River Parade (north side of the river).

Go next


This city travel guide to Wairoa is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.