Waipatiki Beach is a small coastal village in Hastings District, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. It is situated in a little valley at the end of a road that branches off the main road from Napier to Gisborne (SH 2) and that finally, after 11 km, leads to a small sandy beach; first Tangoio Rd, then Waipatiki Rd. Waipatiki Beach lies nearly exactly north of Napier, some 20 km, as the crow flies, and is a small beach side community with alternative lifestyle residents (43 households in 2005). There are also many holidaymakers over the summer period.
Outside the village lies the commercially exploited Waipatiki forest, but close to the village are some important remnants of protected native bush. There is also a small campsite, the Waipatiki Beach Farm Park. “Waipātiki” means “water of the flounder” in Māori. It was once an estuarine valley, well populated in pre-European times because the estuary was a rich source of flounder Rhombosolea plebeia. The 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake lifted the flats and a stream system formed.
Waipatiki Domain is situated at the edge of the village on the northern side of the valley off the beach road. This is an area of regenerated native New Zealand bush. The area is fenced (to protect it against goats) and a pest control program is set up to eradicate possums. This kind of coastal bush is hard to find in Hawke's Bay these days. The forest is dominated by kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides). Some of these are thought to be around 400 years old. Two very large trees are perhaps 600 years old. The larger tree has a circumference of 7.4 metres. The tracks through the domain lead you through impressive archways formed by the fronds of the nikau palm (Rhopalostylis sapida). Tītoki Alectryon excelsus, karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus) and kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) are also present. Birds found in the domain include tui, bellbird, fantail, kererū, grey warbler, shining cuckoo and morepork. There is a 15-minute walk through the domain. There is a side walk up the hill with a view overlooking the valley. The Domain is managed by Hastings District Council.
Waipatiki Scenic Reserve:
Waipatiki Scenic Reserve is managed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. It lies at the head of the valley and covers 64 ha. Like Waipatiki Domain this reserve contains an important piece of remaining coastal kahikatea forest. In the lower part nikau palms are dominant. At the side of the streams delicate lichens hang in long curtains from the trees. Higher up kānuka Kunzea ericoides is abundant. Titoki, tawa Beilschmiedia tawa, karaka and rewarewa Knightia excelsa are also found. In the gullies and streams rimu Dacrydium cupressinum, matai Prumnopitys taxifolia, kahikatea, ponga Cyathea dealbata and makomako Aristotelia serrata are present. Through the reserve leads a part of the original Māori track between Napier and Wairoa. In 1860 a bridle track was cut to take the mail from Napier to Gisborne by pack horse. Pack trains used the route for nearly 40 years until 1899 when an inland route via Tutira was constructed. In the past goats and sheep have grazed the area, but since being fenced regeneration of the vegetation has taken place. There are entrances from Waipatiki Rd and Aropaoanui Rd.
Southern Coastal Walk:
From the beach a well maintained track leads south along the limestone cliffs. After a 15-minute walk a small bay is reached. The track continues further south. The walk gives excellent views over Hawke's Bay, from Mahia Peninsula to Cape Kidnappers. Birds that can be seen include gannets (from the gannetry at Cape Kidnappers), gulls, terns, oystercatchers and shags.
Northern Coastal Walk:
From Waipatiki Beach a well-maintained track leads north to Aropaoanui beach. The walk takes about an hour each way, and follows the lower part of the limestone cliffs. These cliffs rise up to 100 metres high and form an impressive backdrop for views over Hawke's Bay.
In 1974 a small part of the commercial Waipatiki forest was planted with redwoods to create the Stuart McKinley Reserve.