Dannevirke Activities You Can’t Miss!
Yes, there is a “Dannevirke” in New Zealand and this little town between Palmerston North and Hastings is well worth the visit! Located in the Tararua district, Dannevirke is a town of mixed culture, with several beautifully-carved whare (Maori meeting houses) and quirky features to signify the town’s Scandinavian heritage. Dannevirke was founded in 1872 where 21 Danish and Norwegian families migrated here to start a farming community. The quirkiness of the town lives on to today with obscure museums. Nevertheless, the New Zealand wilderness is never too far away with the Ruahine Forest Park right on Dannevirke’s doorstep packed with hikes and free campgrounds. Find out about it all in this list of things to do in Dannevirke, New Zealand!
1. Marvel at Waihi Falls
These spectacular waterfalls are a must-see in the Tararua district! With multiple tiers, they are arguably some of the most scenic falls in the country. While the 25m (82ft) high Waihi Falls looks beautiful in dry weather, they put on quite a show after heavy rain! The falls are quite isolated, with Dannevirke being the nearest large town about 1-hours’ drive away, but the journey is well worth it. For more must-see waterfalls, check out 12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand.
Location: 45km (28 miles) east of Dannevirke. Oporae Road.
2. Hike at the Kumeti Reserve
The Kumeti Reserve links to the Ruahine Forest Park for some excellent hiking! There’s the 5-6 hour hike to the Kiritaki Hut or a 6-7 hour track for experienced trampers going over the southern range of the Ruahine Ranges to Opawe Road.
Location: 21km (13 miles) drom Dannevirke. Kumeti Road.
3. Camp or Hike at the Tamaki Reserve
Another fantastic entrance to the Ruahine Forest Park is at the Tamaki Reserve. Make use of the free campsite open to any type of camper. You can also embark on short walks or hiking trails in the area, such as the 2-3 hour hike to the A-Frame Hut (note that you cannot stay in the hut), the 1-hour Rokaiwhenua Stream Walk, and the 2-hour unmarked route to the Stanfield Hut.
Location: 18km (11 miles) from Dannevirke. Tamaki West Road.
4. Visit the Kaitoke Marae
Marae are Maori meeting places with carved meeting houses. If you want to experience some of the original culture in New Zealand, marae are a good place to go. However, you need permission to enter a marae, as well as going through the local welcoming ceremony. Visits to the Kaitoke Marae can be organised with Ricky Karena at 06 374 8988.
Location: Weber Road.
[CLOSED] Visit Dave’s Den
Update: Dave’s Den closed in 2022 after over 4 decades in business. Some of his collection was sold to regular visitors while other items remain in his possession.
For amazing collections in Dannevirke, check out Dave’s Den Model Vehicle Display & Art Gallery. There are more than 8,500 miniature vehicles (and counting), there’s plenty to keep your eyes busy. Plus, there is a small oil and watercolour art gallery to check out too.
Location: 363 High Street
[TEMPORARILY CLOSED] Wander Around the Kohatu Country Garden
For a stunning location with endless photo opportunities, visit the Kohatu Country Garden. This spacious garden has three ponds, rose gardens, rose pergola gardens, bog gardens and more set among old totara trees. At only around NZ$3 entry, it’s an affordable thing to do in Dannevirke.
Location: 41 Maharahara Road, RD2.
[TEMPORARILY CLOSED] Step Inside the Fantasy Cave
Dannevirke Fantasy Cave can at least be said to be New Zealand’s most unique attraction! Whether you’re travelling with kids or young at heart, you’ll have great fun checking out the rooms of animated puppets, scenes from fairy tales and nursery rhymes, and some of the world’s most-loved toys in action. The cave is run by volunteers and is open Saturdays 10am-12.30pm.
Location: 60 High Street.
[CLOSED] Visit the International Police Museum
See policing through the ages at the International Police Museum! See old police vehicles, uniforms, badges, patches and police souvenirs from New Zealand and all over the world.
Location: 133-137 High Street.