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Your guide to Hāwera
All About Hāwera
Located in the southwest of the North Island, Hāwera is the main town in the south of the Taranaki region, one of New Zealand’s most popular outdoor activities hubs. The town is bordered by water on three sides — the undulating Tawhiti Stream to the north and east, the Waingongoro River to the west, and the South Taranaki Bight to the south — so there’s plenty of opportunity to swim, kayak, and surf here. Hāwera is hard to miss when you drive in from the south, as you're greeted by a huge cow sculpture outside the enormous dairy. Dairy is big business here, and you’ll find plenty of cheese-based dishes to try and ice cream stores serving up flavors made with local milk.
If you're feeling energetic, for a small fee, you can climb to the top of the water tower and observe a panoramic view of the town, coastline, and the Mount Taranaki volcano. Two central parks — Naumai Park and King Edward Park — provide scenic green spaces along with a peaceful lake, while the black sand of Waihī Beach is less than 10 minutes away by car.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Hāwera?
The south Taranaki region is mainly dry, but you could experience storms moving in from across the Tasman Sea, and packing a waterproof jacket is recommended whatever the season. Windy weather is common here, especially in spring (between September and November), so you should wrap up to take a guided walk of the nationally renowned King Edward Park Gardens as part of the Taranaki Garden Festival held at the beginning of November. Black sand beaches are hot to the touch in summer (December to March), when locals head to the beach to swim, so don’t forget to take shoes down to the surf. Heavy frosts are rare in the winter months (June through August), and snow and hail are rare at lower altitudes.
What are the top things to do in Hāwera?
A few minutes north of the town, the Tawhiti Museum features thousands of models depicting the history of the Taranaki region, which are designed and built on-site and cover the period after a European trading station was established in the early 19th century. The detailed displays include dioramas of the whale trade from the 1800s, the bush railway used for logging, and the evolution of modern farm machinery.
A few miles out of Hāwera is the village of Stratford, which marks the beginning of the Forgotten Highway. The road follows an ancient Māori trading path over 90 miles into the Egmont National Park. This is one of the most scenic drives on the North Island, offering commanding vistas of the volcano Mount Taranaki as you make your way up into the mountains.
Rotokare Scenic Reserve
The wetlands and forests of Rotokare Scenic Reserve are around a 30-minute drive north of town, extending over 560 acres with a sprawling natural lake. You can spot forest geckos on the ground and North Island Robins among the Kahikatea/White Pines, and there are even night tours if you want to see the reserve in a whole new light.