• Tawhiti Museum
  • Walking trails


  • by car:

    1 hr from New Plymouth

  • by car:

    3 hr 50 min from Wellington

Schedule a stop in Hāwera to visit the award-winning Tawhiti Museum and Traders & Whalers experience, where history comes to life in incredible detail through hundreds of scale models and dioramas.

The heart of Hāwera lies 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 units (a co-operative owned by the farmers). 

However, most visitors come to Hāwera to visit Tawhiti Museum and the adjoining Traders and Whalers experience. Widely recognised as the best private museum in New Zealand, Tawhiti Museum features thousands of life-size models and scale figures, created to capture the past in a hauntingly realistic and engaging way. Traders and Whalers is a unique and innovative historical representation of Taranaki in the 1800s, featuring a dramatic underground canal boat ride.


The name ‘Hāwera means 'the burnt place' or 'breath of fire', which is particularly significant because Hāwera has a history of devastating fires. Huge blazes destroyed parts of the town in 1884, 1895, and 1912. Hāwera was so fire-prone that in 1914, the 54-metre Hāwera Water Tower was built as a defence against any future fires. The tower is now one of the best-known landmarks in Hāwera.

Need a little exercise? Climb the 215 steps up the Hāwera Water Tower for marvellous views of the Taranaki countryside.

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