Ask any local what the name Putaruru means and most will be able to tell you it means ‘home of the owl’. The Maori translation is puta meaning home as in shelter or safe place, and ruru meaning owl.
Putaruru (population 6000) is located in the heart of the South Waikato District - in the geographical centre of the North Island. From Putaruru you can head south to Taupo, west to Waitomo, north to Hamilton or east to Rotorua and Tauranga – all within an hour. Most travelers heading North or South are more than likely to pass through Putaruru.
Home to some of New Zealand’s purest fresh water, Putaruru is a great place to live and visit with an amazing community spirit. For the keen fresh water fishermen, Putaruru has more than 20 trout packed rivers within a 20km radius.
Take a walk through the arboretum to the lookout, or take a drive to Te Waotu and check out the Robins, alternatively you could head to Arapuni and take a stroll across the swing bridge (both approx. 15 min drive).
Dotted throughout the streets of the central business district is our Mosaic Pavement Art Trail. Then there is the Timber Museum, the Okoroire Hot Springs, Tirau, Lake Arapuni… and of course book yourself a night at The Putaruru Hotel for relaxing afterwards!
When you visit us don’t miss Te Waihou Walk and the internationally acclaimed Blue Spring! This pure water spring is located along the Te Waihou River and is a beautiful ultramarine turquoise colour. The Blue Spring supplies 60% of New Zealand's bottled water (distributed nationwide and internationally) and provides the town's water supply.
On entering Putaruru heading south on Tirau Street there is an eyecatching circular building – (a coronet of arched concrete and glass) surrounded by native plantings. This 1960s architectural treasure was the old Post Office.
Careful inspection of the native grasses and specimens reveals the Putaruru Water Park designed in the shape of a glorious blue ponga fern in homage to the Blue Spring on the Te Waihou.
Follow the Putaruru Pavement Art Trail, it's an opportunity to admire a collection of stunning pavement mosaic tiles and the best way to see all the shops.
The Lorraine Moller Arboretum is on the outskirts of Putaruru accessed from Harry Martin Drive. It is an impressive collection of exotic trees. Enter the gate and follow the wheel-chair accessible path to the lookout or descend to the valley floor through the labelled collection of maple, oak and dogwood.
The Putaruru Timber Museum is definitely worth a visit - it's a two kilometres drive south of Putaruru and is set in 1.5 hectares of park-like grounds.. Learn about the history of the timber milling and logging industries for the Central North Island and conclude your tour with refreshments at the Sawmill Café.
Six kilometres South of Putaruru on SH1 is the Lichfield Cheese Factory which is one of the newest and largest cheese factories in the world.
The Te Waotu-Arapuni Heritage Trail links the unique heritage resources of two areas of the South Waikato District providing a fascinating journey of discovery for independent travellers. This trail is comprised of six sites - Stone House, Te Waotu School, Jim Barnett Reserve, Jones Landing, Arapuni Hydro Station and Duxfield Reserve.
The Arapuni Dam and Swing Bridge are well worth the 15 minute drive… walk across the swing bridge and look down on the awesome native foliage below and swirling waters emitting from the power station.