Enchanting Kawakawa

About the place:

Kawakawa is a charming and quirky little town famous for it award-winning public toilets, a steam train that runs right through the heart of town and unique architecture.  Once a booming coal mining and kauri gum trading centre is now a quite getaway where time seems to stand still.

A casual stroll through the town enthrall’s visitor with colourful murals, old historic buildings, buildings with bright and unique architecture, sculptures and train tracks. If you are lucky enough to visit at the right time one can enjoy jaw dropping views of a vintage steam train as it choo choo’s its way through the centre of the main street.


It’s hard to miss the colourful and unusual public toilets consisting of mosaics, ceramics, bottle glass windows, copper work, gold balls atop the grass tuft roof and a tree that has been integrated into the architecture of the building.



Kawakawa is located in the Northland region of New Zealand’s north island. It lies  30 min to the southwest of Paihia in the Bay of islands and 50 min north of Whangarei.

It serves as a gateway to the Bay of Islands.


How to get there:

Kawakawa is located at a distance of 212 km from Auckland. The drive takes around 2 hr 40 min from Auckland via State Highway 1.

There are numerous attractions and places of interest along the drive that are worth visiting. We would recommend a visit to Whangarei Falls, Kawiti glow-worm caves (amazing place) and Waro Limestone Scenic Reserve.

Cool Facts:

  • It’s the only town in New Zealand that is home to a railway track through the middle of town.
  • Gabriel the steam train built-in 1927 runs through the centre of town. It uses about one ton of coal daily.
  • The towns public toilets have been designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser the famous Austrian designer. It is the last building he designed before he died in 1999.
  • The toilets have been awarded the coveted Golden Plunger award.
  • Kawakawa is also the name of a medicinal plant that flourishes in the region


We had a wonderful time visiting this place and just feel in love with the uniqueness of the town. We hope you enjoy your visit to this enchanting town.

Happy Travels everyone….

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