10 Must-Do Stops Between Gisborne & Wairoa© NZPocketGuide.com
10 Must-Do Stops Between Gisborne & Wairoa

10 Must-Do Stops Between Gisborne & Wairoa

© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
NZ Pocket Guide is 10 years old. Thank you for trusting us with your trip for over a decade!

Where to Stop on State Highway 2 Between Wairoa and Gisborne

Exploring more than just your standard “Auckland to Rotorua to Wellington” stops in the North Island? Travellers looking to see the real North Island and some of its best coastal scenery and relaxed Kiwi towns should consider the road between Gisborne and Wairoa. Make your way on State Highway 2 between the laid-back town of Wairoa (check out stuff to do in Wairoa here) and the hub of the Eastland region, Gisborne. Along the way, you’ll discover hot pools nestled in palms, epic viewpoints across the coast on the Mahia Peninsula, side trips to breathtaking waterfalls and much more. Take a look at this list of the must-do stops between Gisborne & Wairoa for more inspiration!

While you’re here, you might also be interested in Eastland Road Trip Itinerary: Gisborne to Opotiki or Opotiki to Gisborne via The Waioeka Gorge: 8 Epic Stops!

1. The Wairoa Lighthouse

Before beginning your journey on State Highway 2 (SH2) and crossing the bridge to head north, you’ll notice New Zealand’s “only inland lighthouse” on the right-hand side. It’s a great picture opportunity and the lighthouse still lights up after dark!

Location: 0.2km from Wairoa centre.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. View Over Whakaki Lagoon

As you begin to climb SH2, stop at the off-road parking area and admire the views of the Whakaki Lagoon. This 1,500-acre wetland is dedicated to the protection of migratory birds. You’ll also notice some strangely-humped hills toward the coast. According to Maori legend, these are the seven humped whales of Ngai Tahu Matawhaiti.

Location: 12km from Wairoa.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Nuhaka

This small community has a number of notable buildings: the elaborately-carved Kahungunu Marae and the historic Nuhaka general store which has been open for more than 100 years. Stock up on fuel and use the general store if you need to before taking the roundabout turn-off to the Mahia Peninsula.

Location: 32.7km from Wairoa

Te Tumu Paeroa on Flickr© Te Tumu Paeroa on Flickr

4. Mahia Peninsula (Side Trip) – Opoutama Lookout

Follow the coastal road along the Mahia Peninsula and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The peninsula was once an island but sand accumulation has formed New Zealand’s largest tombolo landform. There are plenty of lookouts and off-road parking along the Mahia Peninsula road. A noteworthy one is at the Opoutama Lookout with spectacular views across the peninsula to Mahia Beach and the village. The wide shallow beach below was also used by the US army for training landing craft during World War 2.

Location: 10km from Nuhaka

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Mahia Peninsula (Side Trip) – Mahia Beach

Stop by the beach at the main settlement of the peninsula. There’s a cafe, which is a great stop for lunch, and the beach is a pleasant spot for a walk. If you’re feeling more active, head 7km south of the village on Kinikini Road to the Mahia Peninsula Scenic Reserve where there is a 3.5km loop walk through a lush coastal forest to a lookout. Check out more things to do on the Mahia Peninsula here. Once you’re done, return on the road back to Nuhaka.

Location: 17km from Nuhaka

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Morere Hot Springs Scenic Reserve

Nestled in nikau palm forest, the little village of Morere is a must-stop, whether it’s for its tearooms, to relax at the hot pools or to do one of the forest walks in the Morere Hot Springs Scenic Reserve. Walks range from an easy 20-minute stroll on the Nikau Loop Walk to the more adventurous Ridge Track or Mangakawa Track taking around 2h30min to walk.

Location: 41.1km from Wairoa

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

7. Muriwai

As you begin to approach Gisborne through the Muriwai settlement, look over the Wherowhero Estuary toward the white cliffs of Young Nick’s Head, named after Captain Cook’s surgeon’s boy, Nicholas Young, who spotted the cliffs from the Endeavour just before the first European landing on New Zealand in 1769.

Location: 77.9km from Wairoa

10 Must-Do Stops Between Gisborne & Wairoa© Ray Sheldrake

8. Manutuke

Soon after the roundabout, you will see a side road leading to the small settlement of Manutuke. Here, there are several interesting maraes, one of which is Te Poho o Rukupo and is one of the oldest meeting houses in Poverty Bay. Toko Toru Papu is an Anglican church with interesting carvings, as is the Whakato Marae. Admire them from the outside, as you will need permission to enter the grounds.

Location: 87.3km from Wairoa

Evan Goldenberg on Flickr© Evan Goldenberg on Flickr

9. Eastwoodhill Arboretum and Rere Falls (Side Trip)

At the roundabout, turn onto Wharekopae Road for another spectacular side trip before reaching the city. 25km along this road is the Eastwoodhill Arboretum which is one of the largest collections of native and exotic trees in the Southern Hemisphere – an excellent place for a walk and bird-watching. 40km down the road is Rere Falls, a wide cascade and a wonderful picture opportunity. A little further is the Rere Rockslide which is a natural waterslide leading into a freshwater pool. You will need a bodyboard or an inflatable lilo/tube to use it.

Location: Wharekope Road turnoff is 90.3km away from Wairoa

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Makaraka

Back at the roundabout, turn to cross the Waipaoa River and arrive at Makaraka at the junction between Main Road and SH2. This area is known for its productive plains producing fruit orchards and vineyards. Stop by the Bushmere Estate Winery for a wine tasting. Finally, follow Main Road to enter into Gisborne! Check out how to spend your time there with our What to Do for 5 Days in Gisborne.

Location: 94km in Wairoa

Pixabay© Pixabay


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

Was this article useful?