Wairoa is on the East Coast of the North Island. It is the northernmost town in the Hawke's Bay region. Wairoa is located on the northern shore of Hawke Bay at the mouth of the Wairoa River and to the west of Mahia Peninsula. It is 100 kilometres northeast of Napier, and a similar distance southwest of Gisborne. Servicing a large rural community Wairoa's population is 8200 - 2014 ERP Census. The Wairoa District is 0.2 percent of the New Zealand Population and ranks 62th in size out of the 67 districts in New Zealand. Wairoa is only unique in two areas that we are aware of, firstly a very wide river runs through the center of town and secondly there is a Lighthouse positioned on the river bank opposite the main shopping area.
Most of the photographs on these two pages have been taken by one of our local wairoa.net photographers Bob Lewis. We hope you enjoy the pictueque captures we have chosen to display as part of the wairoa.net About pages. All photos are the property of Wairoa.net and are not for distribution.
The aerial picture of The Wairoa Bridge above, was taken on March the 8th 1988 when Wairoa weathered an extremely severe cyclone.
You can read more on Cyclone Bola on our Cyclone Bola Summary of Events and Photo pages.
Cyclone Bola passed through the Wairoa township flooding many areas, lifting roofs, uprooting many trees, destroying and blocking many roads and destroying the Wairoa Bridge which in turn divided the township in two. Many were evacuated by horse back or by helicopter.
The force of the logs, branches and debris, that had been washed down from the catchment area, was so great that the piles of the Wairoa bridge, as you can see below, were taken out. The Wairoa Bridge, built in 1933, completely collapse and caved in, with 100 metres of her being swept down the river. This in turn broke the main water pipe, the sewage pipe and one of the power sources to the town for days to follow. Wairoa was isolated for days other than by air, not only from the rest of the world, but also from each other with no link between the north side and the south side.
Wairoa was declared a Civil Defence Emergency area and the locals rallied to support each other. The New Zealand Army was called in to assist the many services working over time to supply water to the south side of Wairoa. You can read more on Cyclone Bola on our Cyclone Bola pages.
The New High Level Wairoa Bridge completed at the end of 1989 is higher and has better clearance underneath and more space between its support pillars. It was built relative to the old bridge to give it a stronger foundation which is much less likely to be damaged by the flow of the river even in severe flood conditions.
The New Bridge is much wider, higher and far more modern, giving the approach to our town a more up market look.
To accomodate the sudden incline up to the new bridge a roundabout was built allowing a slight incline going either left or right into Marine Parade, then slightly higher again heading onto the bridge. A few of the local buildings on that intersection were removed to make way for the roundabout that needed to caterer for large vehicles such as buses, logging trucks, camper vans and traillers.
Our pretty town, located on the banks of the broad Wairoa river, is the district's main commercial and urban centre. The Wairoa district takes it name from the main river flowing through it. From this river comes the name not only for the entire district but the town itself. This large expanse of country, which is mostly hilly, is drained by the Wairoa, Waihua, Nuhaka and Tahaenui Rivers, and numerous other small ones.
The river is an ideal place for the many water sports, including yachting, kayaking, rowing and water skiing.
The Wairoa Lighthouse was originally built on Portland Island off the Mahia Peninsula and was one of the earliest lighthouse sites in New Zealand. Built from solid kauri it was in use from 1878 to 1958. In 1955 a new light on a steel tower was built when the wood started rotting. It was the last lighthouse to use kerosene lamps and clockwork mechanisms. The lighthouse was moved to its present position in 1961.
In the vicinity of the lighthouse can be seen an old letter box, a whaling try-pot as well as seats commemorating those who served in the wars.
This Picnic Area was taken from the Lighthouse. The riverbank has many of these eating areas providing pleasant scenic surroundings.
Early settlement in the area included a whaling station and trading post, dealing largely in flax. Its initial name was Clyde, but this was changed largely to avoid confusion with Clive near Napier and Clyde in the South Island.
The town rose to prominence during the Maori Wars, during which time it was a garrison town.
Wairoa was largely established as a port and service centre for northern Hawkes Bay, and was reliant on shipping until the road and rail links were established in 1930.
Today, Wairoa is a manufacturing and farming service town. It is the seat of the Wairoa District Council. The Wairoa District covers the northern half of The Bay's coast, and extends from Mahia Peninsula to Lake Waikaremoana, and south to the mouth of the Waikari River.
This is a photo of our local AFFCO Freezing Works, taken from Te Uhi Hill. This Company is the major employer in Wairoa. It operates a night and day shift six days per week processing up to 70,000 head of beef and 1 million lambs per year.
Wairoa Township taken from the East looking West.
Wairoa South taken from over Kihitu looking North.
The Wairoa River and main township on the right, looking East.
The Wairoa River and Township taken from above Kihitu looking north west.
Wairoa Township taken from above Kititu looking north west.
The Wairoa River taken from above the Wairoa Mouth looking north east.
The Wairoa High Level Bridge looking south.
Wairoa south looking out over the Wairoa River Mouth.
1. Bobby W Lewis.
2. Alan Pickering.
3. Jennifer L Caughey.