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About our district

Kawerau is the heart of the Bay of Plenty, is central to everything and nestles within the Tarawera valley at the foot of the dramatic Putauaki (Mt Edgecumbe), a volcano that became dormant about 1000 years ago.

Less than an hour east of Rotorua and 30 minutes south-west of Whakatane, Kawerau is within easy reach of lakes, beaches, forests, major cities and thermal areas. With the Tarawera River right on its doorstep, Kawerau is also a popular outdoor and adventure playground.

Founded in 1953, Kawerau is one of the youngest towns in New Zealand. It has been well planned with a shopping centre, plenty of parks and reserves and wide tree-lined streets. it offers a leisurely pace of life.

Kawerau is known for its friendly people and strong community spirit. The strength of its multicultural background is a proud characteristic of the town, as is the richness of its Maori heritage.

The area's wonderful climate and varied scenic beauty make it a great affordable lifestyle option.


Kawerau enjoys hot summers and mild winters.

During summer (December to February) the average daily maximum temperature is a pleasant 23.7 degrees Celsius, and temperatures commonly reach more than 30 degrees Celsius. On some days Kawerau is the hottest place in New Zealand. For recordings of the highest daily temperatures and total sunshine hours for the last 12 months, click :-  July 15 Click to Download Reader  August 15 Click  September 15 Click  October 15 Click  November 15 Click   December 15 Click  January 16 Click to Download Reader  Februrary 16 Click to Download Reader  March 16 Click  April 16 Click  May 16 Click  June 16 Click

In winter (July to August), the average daily maximum temperature is around 15.6 degrees Celsius. Crisp, early morning frosts are usually followed by clear, sunny days.

Rainfall is spread fairly evenly through the year. This climate information has been provided by Met Service and NIWA. For up-to-the-minute weather forecasts, go to the Met Service website.

Natural resources


The geothermal field at Kawerau is part of the volcanic zone that runs from Taupo to White Island, and is even larger than that at Rotorua. This resource has been harvested for mill processing since 1957, with the KA 21 bore considered the highest-producing geothermal bore in the world. Mighty River Power's geothermal power station is capable of delivering more than 50 percent of the region's electricity.

Tarawera River and Falls

These are the most spectacular falls in the Bay of Plenty. The Tarawera River plunges 65m down a sheer cliff before tumbling over bush-lined rapids. The Tarawera River bed around the falls is carved into ancient volcanic rocks and the high cliffs are thought to be the eroded end face of an ancient lava flow that poured from Mt. Tarawera about 11,000 years ago.

The forest, dominated by pohutukawa and rata as well as hybrids of the two, is relatively young due to the devastation caused by the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. Native forest birds such as tui, tomtits, fantails and kereru can often be seen near the tracks around the falls and river areas. Migrating eels have been seen climbing determinedly over grass, scrub and rock, up the western side of the falls in search of habitat further upstream.

The Tarawera River drains Lake Tarawera to the Eastern Bay of Plenty and falls approximately 30m in the 59km from the lake to the sea. The upper reaches of the river contain a number of rapids considered to be world-class kayaking courses. Trout fishing along the length of the river from the Tarawera Falls to Kawerau is outstanding with rainbow trout, averaging 1.5kg, present in high numbers.


Norske Skog Tasman has undertaken a major restoration project at the paper mill effluent treatment ponds near Kawerau. Wildland Consultants managed the project, including restoration planning, planting, weed and pest control and monitoring.

The 15ha site encompassing Lakes Rotoroa, was originally a natural wetland with extensive wetlands on the lake margins. A network of industrial treatment plants constructed in the vicinity of the lakes and the associated development of roads, buildings, hard stands and effluent treatment equipment, resulted in major changes and the loss of most of the natural character of the site. Prior to the start of restoration works, remaining ecological values were associated with a degraded open water habitat rather than indigenous vegetation or wetlands.

This restoration project has been acknowledged by several government agencies as a prime example of substantial corporate commitment to mitigating and offsetting historical industrial impacts on the aquatic system in the region.

The ground beneath your feet

Want to know what’s under your feet? Your computer or smartphone can now tell you.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council and GNS Science have collaborated to develop an interactive portal that provides instant access to information on Bay of Plenty groundwater systems and geology. From July 23, 2014, all you need to do is enter a street address or map co-ordinates into your computer, or have an android smartphone with GPS, and you can call up information about the geology beneath your feet.

The computer programme is believed to be the first of its kind in New Zealand, and both organisations have funded the project. The regional council provides its groundwater information and borehole data, and GNS Science provides information on aquifers – earth or rock containing water – which are available to the public.

Regional council science manager Rob Donald said the model was part of a larger project where scientists developed three-dimensional subsurface geological models of Taupo’s volcanic zone to better understand the geometry, fluid flow pathways and layer properties underground. The website model, on a website called ‘Earth Beneath Our Feet’, shows the main geological units down to bedrock, along with information about the characteristics of rocks, such as gravel, most likely to be encountered. This information can help identify where groundwater is most likely to be found. In time, more information about the Bay of Plenty’s aquifers, including the depth, temperature and chemistry of the groundwater, will be accessible through this website. Rob said the information portal, which is now live, will be useful to landowners and contractors to help with decisions such as where they can drill for water.

It can be used on a computer or as a smartphone app that gives access to a stripped-down version of the ‘Earth Beneath Our Feet’ website. The website is online at, and the phone app is called ‘GeoApp’. “It means landowners, consultants and students will have information at their fingertips. It also saves time for council staff members, who won’t have to spend time on routine enquiries, as our data will all be there for people to look at themselves,” Rob said.