There are no fewer than six windswept beaches along the coast here: Kairakau, Mangakuri, Pourerere, Aramoana, Blackhead and Porangahau. The first five are good for swimming, and between the lot they offer a range of sandy, salty activities including surfing, fishing and driftwoody, rock-pooly adventures. Between Aramoana and Blackhead Beach lies the DOC-managed Te Angiangi Marine Reserve – bring your snorkel.
It’s a nondescript hill in the middle of nowhere, but the place with the world’s longest name is good for a photo op. Believe it or not, Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is the abbreviated form of ‘The Brow of a Hill where Tamatea, the Man with the Big Knees, Who Slid, Climbed and Swallowed Mountains, Known as Land Eater, Played his Flute to his Brother’. To get there, fuel up in Waipukurau and drive 40km to the Mangaorapa junction on Rte 52. Turn left and go 4km towards Porangahau. At the intersection with the signposts, turn right and continue 4.3km to the sign.
Onga Onga, a historic village 16km west of Waipawa, has interesting Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Pick up a pamphlet for a self-guided walking tour from the info centre in Waipukurau.
If you're doing more than just breezing through en route to Wellington or Napier/Hastings, there are a couple of motels in Waipukurau in which to bunk down.
There are a couple of good cafes in and north of Waipawa, plus a basic supermarket here and another in Waipukurau.