Kawerau hosts a number of events each year, including the National Woodskills Competition and Woodfest, Kawerau King of the Mountain race, the Tarawera 100 motorcycle endurance race and the Tarawera Ultramarathon to name a few.

Kawerau is growing as an event venue for white water rapid competitions such as kayaking and rafting and was a venue for the 2013 World Rafting Championships.