Our Waipu Highland Games
Our Waipu Highland Games are one of the longest-running Scottish gatherings in the Southern Hemisphere, offering fierce competition, spectacular entertainment and a full day of family-friendly fun. Run by the Waipu Caledonian Society for nearly 150 years with all Games Day proceeds continuing to go directly back into our local community.
Our Games have gained the reputation of being one of the most prestigious Highland events in the world, each year attracting hundreds of top pipers, drummers, dancers and heavyweight athletes along with thousands of spectators from far and wide.
We warmly welcome everybody, not just the Scots. Whether you’re an athlete, dancer, piper, drummer or spectator, there is no more exciting or entertaining way to start the New Year than by joining all of us here at Caledonian Park and experiencing the truly unique community atmosphere that is Waipu.
These guys threw their weight in behind our Highland Games, so we’d like to throw our weight in behind them now, too!
A hundred thousand thanks also to…
Waipu Cove Surf Life Saving Club, Blue Chip Quarries, Waipu Lions, Jenkins Contracting, Lewis Turrell’s House of Scotland, Rural Delivery Waipu, Waipu 4 Square, John Barber, Vodafone, Waipu ArtyFarty Group, Your Vet Waipu, R A Guy, Waipu ITM, Creative Brand-aid, Waipu Hammer Hardware, Martyn Boots, Camp Waipu Cove, Gordon Walker, Hue Creative, Waipu Primary School, Marshmallow Websites, Alex Oxford Trust, Northland Steel Products, Couper Farms, Alex McLean Trust, The Waipu Caledonian Society Committee, The Waipu Highland Games Committee and the many other volunteers who have assisted, not only on Games Day, but throughout the year.
If you’d like to throw your weight behind us too – especially as we close in our massive 150th Waipu Highland Games celebrations – we’d really love to hear from you. Please send us an email:
Our 150-year celebration Highland Games
On January 1, 2021, we will be proudly celebrating our 150th Waipu Highland Games – a huge milestone in anyone’s history and we approach it with great anticipation. One hundred and fifty years ago the land in the wee village of Waipu was gifted by the Caledonian Society as a green space to be kept in perpetuity for the people of the area to enjoy and to have as a centre for their annual Highland Games.
These Games went a long way to maintain the culture of the early settlers’ homeland… the piping, drumming and dancing of Scotland have been intrinsic to the Scots where-ever they have travelled. The heavyweight competitions were an important part of this once-a-year celebration.
In 2021 we promise you a bigger, better and even more entertaining event as part of the huge party which will fill the Waipu Caledonian Grounds to overflowing. Make sure you put it in your diaries now.
Highlights of the Waipu Highland Games 1953
The Caledonian Society make our Highland Games happen
Waipu is at the heart of everything we do. We are a not-for-profit organisation established back in 1871 and since then have run the iconic annual Waipu Highland Games, donating all Games Day proceeds back to the Waipu community. We paid for the construction of the Celtic Barn in 2007 which is, along with the park, used by a large number of community groups, and over time have sponsored many local community members on scholarships to further their Scottish training overseas. We proudly continue to build and maintain many significant community facilities and services to help assist the pride and well-being of the people of Waipu. If you’d like to become involved, please send us an email at:
“In 1905 we purchased the land now known as Caledonian Park. Since that time we have covered all costs of upgrading and maintaining the facilities.
It is with great pleasure that we continue to make it available to you to enjoy for free.”
The Celtic Barn hire
A wonderful, modern, multi-purpose facility in Waipu situated in the Caledonian Park with great park surrounds, providing the perfect venue for weddings, parties or large scale corporate and community events. The Main Hall can seat 400 for dinner or 600 auditorium style. The Barn has excellent modern kitchen facilities and local caterers are available if required. The Lobby area is also ideal for more intimate smaller weddings or functions. This area can seat 180 auditorium style or 130 for dinner.
Accommodation options are available nearby and the stunning Bream Bay Beaches are only a few minute’s drive away.
NZMA Motorhome stays
Open to NZMCA members only, The Caledonian Park has a grassed and tree-lined area approximately 4Ha suitable for overnight motorhome parking. There are 12 powered sites (6 power box outlets with 2 plugs in each box), with parking for up to 30 unpowered. NB: tents are not permitted.
Costs per night for each Motorhome are; $15.00 for powered sites and $10.00 for unpowered. Payment is by way of an honesty system, with envelopes in each powered box to be filled in and deposited through a slot in the door of the Caledonian Committee Rooms located behind the Celtic Barn, on the northwestern corner of the park. Although all Motorhomes have to be self-contained, there is potable water available, along with toilets for use on the northwestern corner of the park. There are no showers or washing facility available.
Parking is directly behind the main street of Waipu village, with a number of coffee shops, restaurants, museum, a supermarket, hardware, garage, etc., all within a 3-5 minute walk. The park is owned and maintained by the Waipu Caledonian Society for the use of the local Community and contains rugby fields, tennis courts, croquet lawns and a bowling club on the Eastern boundary.
Our Celtic Barn is used for private functions such as weddings, funerals, corporate events, as well as for basketball, wrestling, futsal, highland dancing and piping tuition. Because of this, there are times when entry to the parking for motorhomes is temporarily restricted. On these occasions, signage will be obvious indicating the timing of the restriction and when it will be available again for parking.
Other local things of interest
The Waipu Museum
A UNESCO listed collection with an award-winning exhibition and gorgeous gift shop, open 7 days a week from 9.30am – 4.30pm.
The Waipu Centennial Trust (WCT) was established to nurture engagement by the Waipu and region’s community in arts and cultural heritage development. The WCT is the governing body of the Waipu Museum, which preserves & promotes the internationally significant UNESCO Memory of the World registered story & collection of the migration of 1000 Nova Scotians of Scottish heritage who settled in Waipu in the 1850s. The Museum maintains a genealogy database of 75,000+ Nova Scotians names, develops public programs to engage the community, & provides a much utilised Tourism Information Service for the Twin Coast Discovery trail and the whole Northland region. The WCT also cares for the Arts & Heritage Precinct, a landscape of repurposed heritage buildings.
The Waipu Tartan
A dream that became a reality for the descendants of the great migration was to create a tartan unique to the Waipu area and call it their own. With the involvement and tenacity of many, including local Primary School pupils, the end result is a stunning piece of tartan artistry profoundly described in the poem by our own loom master Lloyd Cullen. Officially registered and woven in Scotland, the first bolt of Waipu Tartan dress weight 100% wool fabric was shipped to Waipu in 2008.
The Waipu Tartan
It starts off with the clearances, when a Scotsman’s life was cheap
They forced the people off the land (replaced them all with sheep)
They then departed Scottish shores and Nova Scotia bound.
They stayed on there for thirty years (etched a living from the ground)
When hardship and the famine forced them once again to flee
The craft Scotsmen built some ships and headed out to sea.
They landed on the Aussie coast, did not like what they saw
And once again they sailed away for some new distant shore.
They ended up in Waipu and they’ve been here all this time.
So, I’m telling you this story in a tartan and a rhyme.
The white is for the shaggy sheep and also for the snow
And Aotearoa where the Scotsmen were to go,
Purple is for the Heather on the Scottish countryside
And the thistle is an emblem that is recognised worldwide.
Blue is for the ocean it’s the highway for their trips
Seven colours in the tartan represent the seven ships
The green is for the forest and the colour of the land
Which they saw while they were anchored out beyond the Waipu sand.
The red is the MacFarlane Tie, adopted by the school
No tartan from the town itself that was the only rule.
It was the Reverend Norm McLeod the leader of the pack
Who takes the last two colours with the yellow and the black
We’ve used up all the colours and the story has been told
And the Scotsman got to live in peace and all of them grew old.
Lloyd Cullen 2003
Waipu Surf Lifesaving
Just down the road from Waipu township is one of the best surf beaches in New Zealand. Waipu Beach was legendary in the early days of surfing back in the 50s and 60s. It still attracts year-round surfies looking for the perfect break. As a result, a surf lifesaving club was born and continues to this day, keeping visitors and locals safe throughout the long summer.
The Waipu Cove Surf Life Saving Club members are proud to support the Waipu Highland Games. Each year we are proud to man the gates at the Games. Look out for us in our bright red and yellow gear.
The family-friendly club has been patrolling the beach for over 90 years.