If you love milk and cheese, schedule a stop in Hawera; home of the southern hemisphere's largest single site dairy factory.
Hawera’s heart is in dairying, a fact reinforced by the giant cow icon that welcomes visitors arriving from the south. Around 13 million litres of milk are processed here every day, at one of the southern hemisphere’s largest dairy processing unit (a co-operative owned by the farmers).
However most visitors come to Hawera to visit the Tawhiti Museum. It features life size figures created from moulds cast from real people, to capture the past in an engaging way.
Hawera means 'the burnt place' or 'breath of fire' - it takes its name from the old Maori village of Te Hawera, which was located approximately three kilometres south east of the present town.
The meaning of the town's name is particularly significant because Hawera has a history of devastating fires. Huge blazes destroyed parts of the town in 1884, 1895 and 1912. Hawera was so fire-prone that insurance underwriters demanded the construction of a water tower as a fire-fighting reservoir.
Completed in 1914, the 54 metre Hawera Water Tower is one of Taranaki's best known landmarks. A staggering 1340 tonnes of hand-mixed concrete was required for its construction. Need a little exercise? Climb the 215 steps up the Hawera Water Tower for marvelous views of the Taranaki countryside.