The Hātea River begins as the Waitaua Stream which originates just north of Kamo. It then flows southeast through Tikipunga and over Whangarei Falls, before flowing through Mair Park into Whangarei Harbour. The upper catchment contains some mixed beef and sheep farming, however, the majority of the catchment is a mix of lifestyle blocks and urban areas.
Whangarei Falls is a popular swimming site but periodic faecal contamination from wildfowl and livestock can make the falls unsuitable for swimming.
Recreation information has moved to the "Can I Swim Here?" section of LAWA