It's no wonder Scottish migrants chose to settle in Waipu. Elisabeth Easther discovers its secrets.

Origin of name:

Wai (for water) + pu (for reddish in colour) = reddish water.

Population: Around 3000 in the wider region, swelling considerably over the summer months.

Town slogan: "Cead Mile Failte" which is Celtic for One Hundred Thousand Welcomes.


Local flavour: Waipu has a distinctly Scottish feel.

Shiploads of Scots: In the 1850s, five ships arrived in Waipu containing more than 800 predominantly Scottish settlers.

Famous locals: Steve Price (former Warriors captain) owns the local Four Square. Richie Guy (former All Black and chairman of the NZRU) lives locally, as does Fiona Southorn, who won bronze in cycling at the 2012 London Paralympics.

Best website:
Big business: Northland Steel Products and Zego Boats (designed and made in Waipu) both employ a lot of locals.

Source of pride: The locals are fiercely loyal to their Scottish heritage.

Town fiestas: The Highland Games on January 1. Tartan Month every July, including The Art 'n' Tartan wearable arts. The Easter Carnival, a massive school fete with hordes coming from all over for the stalls, rides and fun. Surf lifesaving is also popular with a Junior Surf Carnival held every summer. And then there's the Christmas Eve Parade on December 24.

Here for a short time: Grab fish and chips from Magic Tasty and devour them on the beach. Or stop for an ice cream at the Cove Store and watch the surfers - if you're lucky you might even spot dolphins, seals or orcas.

Best place to take kids: Go glow-worm spotting at Waipu Caves or head for the beach. There's a small river at the south end with rock pools and a nice safe shallow area for kids to splash about.

Rugby League legend Steve Price is the owner of Waipu 4 Square. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Rugby League legend Steve Price is the owner of Waipu 4 Square. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Best park:

Waihoihoi Park, enjoy a picnic by the river and feed the ducks, while the kids play in the playground. Lots of grass, swings and slides, plus some very cool stone sculptures that kids can climb all over.

Spend a penny: The public toilets on the reserve are decorated with an impressive mural that depicts the story of Scottish migration to Waipu Cove, and won the artist, Daniel Mills, a Resene Mural Masterpiece Award.

Cooking with gas: Head for the reserve and make use of the free barbecues and picnic tables overlooking the beach.

Best walk: Waipu Cove to Langs Beach - amble along the coastal track for stunning views of the ocean, out to the Hen and Chicken islands. The pancake rocks are also worth hunting out, ask a local for directions.

Best view: Anywhere you can see the sea. Or the bush. Or the sky.


Best swim: Waipu Cove Beach is a beautiful white sand surf beach patrolled by lifeguards from Labour Weekend to Easter.

Best museum: Waipu Museum presents the extraordinary settlement story of the hundreds of Highland Scots who migrated to this area - interestingly Gaelic was spoken here till World War I. There's lots of shipbuilding equipment, compasses from the original ships and some incredible stories - stay all day and read everything, or experience the interactive elements and get the gist of it all in half an hour.

Heritage trail: This self-guided tour visits important landmarks and buildings identified by rugged limestone pillars - it takes about two hours by car, pick up a map from the museum.

Cultural outings: The Waipu Grand Pageant is a huge production held every 10 years to celebrate the founding of Waipu.

Nice arts: Visit the Black Shed Gallery in Waipu, the museum gift shop and the Waipu Boutique Sunday Markets (2nd Sunday of every month) for arts and crafts, food and live music.

Top shops: In Waipu township, Wild Thyme is great for gifts, organic produce and amazing smoothies. Browse around Industry for antiques and collectables or head to Malcolm Harker, the world-renowned herbologist, to stock up on his herbal tonics, elixirs, and lotions.


Cream of the coffee: The Red Shed, in a cool converted shipping container on the main road, does great coffee. Locals also love going to Logan Maclean, opposite the museum, for their daily fix.

Baked: Waipu Deli does amazing baking - their date scones and muffins are mouthwatering, ditto their breakfasts and coffee.

Best food: Cove Cafe serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner, providing scrumptious food and views over the beach.

Best Value Food: The Razza for tasty, home-style fare, with generous portions at reasonable prices. The drinks are cheap too. Madly Indian in Waipu does authentic, affordable Indian food.

Wet your whistle: Pizza Barn serves McLeod's, a craft beer that's brewed on site; their pizzas and atmosphere are also popular. Or for a traditional Kiwi pub and a game of pool, it has to be the Waipu Hotel. And the pool tables are free to use on Thursdays.

Clayton and Geoff Gwynne of McLeod's Brewery, Waipu. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Clayton and Geoff Gwynne of McLeod's Brewery, Waipu. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Rest your head:


Camp Waipu Cove is one of the few places you can stay right on the beach. Choose between camping or one of their comfy self-contained cabins.

Sustainable luxury: Black Sheep Farm is a boutique B&B between Langs Beach and Waipu Cove. The meals they serve are made from their own organic, farmed produce while the native bush, birds and stars have many guests describing their stay as heavenly.

Best mountain biking: Cullen to Massey Rd has a hearty mountain bike trail, although you can walk it if you'd rather. Being a pretty steep logging road, you've got to be confident on two wheels to tackle it. Give it about three hours to walk or 90 minutes to ride.

Best adventures: Go for a trot on the beach with Waipu Horse Adventures. Take a surfing lesson with Learn2Surf Waipu Cove. Fishing charters are also popular, with plenty of snapper and kingfish to be found in Bream Bay.

Best kept secret: Piroa Falls is a 10-minute walk through native bush where you'll discover a waterfall with a cool, deep water hole for swimming.

Wildlife: The endangered fairy terns breed just north of the main beach at Waipu Cove. With only 40 birds left, DOC is working on a major conservation programme which is why dogs aren't allowed past a certain point on the beach.


Locals say: Seriously, why would you live anywhere else?

Thanks to the Waipu Fan Club for sharing the love.