1. Onepoto Caves Track (2 hours return)
A walk in the Te Urewera forest, around Lake Waikaremoana, has to top the list of walks in Northern Hawke’s Bay! Lake Waikaremoana has a wealth of awesome walking tracks that we go into detail in 17 Stunning Lake Waikaremoana Walks, but one of the standout tracks is the Onepoto Caves Track. Situated on the side of the Te Urewera forest closest to Wairoa, the Onepoto Caves Track is full of wonderful rock features from caves to tunnels. There are also some views of Lake Waikaremoana thrown in there. If you were only to do one short walk around Lake Waikaremoana, then the Onepoto Caves caves is certainly a strong contender.
Location: Just off State Highway 38 approximately 10km south of Aniwaniwa.
2. Mangakawa Track (2h30mins return)
Delve into some of the most magnificently diverse rainforest on the North Island. The Mangakawa Track is a longer walking track in the Morere Springs Scenic Reserve, taking you along streams to waterfalls and small river gorges. The forest is full of nikau palm trees – you won’t find many tracks like it in New Zealand. For more walks in the Morere Scenic Reserve, see Wairoa – Guide for Backpackers.
Location: The track can be accessed from the main entrance of the Morere Springs Scenic Reserve and Hot Springs. The track is about 500m from State Highway 2.
3. Te Reinga Falls Scenic Reserve (5 minutes one way)
Ok, so five minutes is hardly a walk but if you love getting off the beaten track and you love to see a good waterfall, then the Te Reinga Falls Scenic Reserve is for you! Marvel at the 35m falls at a fantastic viewpoint.
Location: 35km inland from Wairoa. Turn right at Frasertown onto State Highway 36 and follow to Te Reinga. Turn left across the bridge over the river and the car park is at the western end of the bridge.
4. Mahia Penninsula Scenic Reserve Track (2h30mins loop)
For epic coastal views mixed with a bushwalk, you can’t do better than the Mahia Penninsula Scenic Reserve Track. This loop walk takes you through semi-coastal forest to various lookouts over the rugged coast of the Mahia Penninsula broken up by pristine beaches. For more details and things to do in Mahia, check out 11 Mahia Peninsula Must-Dos.
Location: 7km from Mahia Beach up the winding gravel road, Kinikini Road.
5. Mangaone Caves Track (20 minutes one way)
A caving adventure that won’t take too much of your time, the Mangaone Caves is an awesome caving option for those first-time cavers. No guides, no expenses: just awesome self-guided fun. Take a torch and follow the poled route over farmland to a viewpoint of the coast. Follow some steps into the main cave where there are two passages accessed by ladders.
Location: 40km from Wairoa. Turn off State Highway 2 about 4km north of Nuhaka or 5km south of Morere Springs. Track 6km up a winding gravel road called the Mangaone Valley Road.
6. Shine Falls Track (1h30mins return)
As you have probably figured out by now, there is no lack of waterfalls in New Zealand. Another dramatic waterfall can be found in the Boundary Stream Scenic Reserve on the flanks of the Maungaharuru Range meaning “rumbling mountain” because of the sounds of birdlife heard from the mountain. The most popular track in the area is a 2km track to Shine Falls taking you through gorgeous lowland forest to the falls. For more awesome natural features like Shine Falls, check out Top 10 Natural Attractions in Hawke’s Bay
Location: From Wairoa, follow State Highway 2 west until you see the sign for Shine Falls in Tutira. Turn right into Matahorua Road and follow for 11km. Turn left into Heays Access Road and follow for 6.5km before reaching the Department of Conservation car park.
7. Wairoa Township Riverside Walkway (1h30mins one way)
A great way to discover the town of Wairoa is on the Wairoa Township Riverside Walkway. Start at the Portland Island Lighthouse which stands next to the Wairoa Bridge – it’s impossible to miss. Follow the walkway along the southern banks of the Wairoa River to a lookout point on Pilot’s Hill. Here, you can see Portland Island and even as far as Cape Kidnappers on a clear day. If you continue further along Whakamahi Road there are some small boxes with relics from World War Two.
Location: Wairoa. Start from the lighthouse.
8. Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk (3-4 days one way)
There’s no better way to end this list than with a New Zealand Great Walk. The 3-4 day wilderness experience of the Lake Waikaremoana Track provides a well-rounded experience of the Te Urewera rainforest incorporating waterfalls, magnificent bush and lake views. For more information, check out 17 Stunning Lake Waikaremoana Walks and How to Prepare for a Great Walk in New Zealand.
Location: Te Urewera. Book transport, either shuttle or water taxi, from Opoura Bay where there is a car park for visitors and a visitor centre.