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Just down the coast from Whakatane in the eastern Bay of Plenty is the small beach town of Opotiki. This area of New Zealand boasts stunning coastlines with a warm climate, great surf, swift-running rivers and lush native bush – the perfect place to experience peace and quiet as well as some exciting adventures!
Here are our favourite reasons to visit Opotiki.
Authentic Māori culture
As you stroll around Opotiki’s main streets and along nearby Waiotahe Beach, keep an eye out for the traditional Māori carvings that tell the story of its people. Opotiki was one of the first places in New Zealand settled by Māori, with several of the first migrating waka (canoes) reaching the area; it was also a centre for the Hauhau religious movement. Master carvers have created a series of artworks symbolising the progress of civilisation in the region as well as other concepts. Guided walks around the township are available if you want to learn more about the carvings and their history.
Set aside as a reserve in the early 1900s, the Hukutaia Domain is known as one of Opotiki's main attractions and attracts visitors from around the world. The domain is home to many extremely rare native New Zealand plants, including the 2500 year old giant Puriri tree named Taketakerau. Walking tracks crisscross the domain’s five hectares of native forest, so visitors can enjoy its peaceful atmosphere.
Waioeka Gorge Scenic Reserve
Just south of Opotiki, the Waioeka Gorge Scenic Reserve covers 1800 hectares of breathtaking native forest and regenerating farmland. There are viewing points and picnic spots throughout making it an excellent place for families to visit. Walking tracks in the reserve include the Tauranga Track (3 hours), Mangapumarumaru Track (4 hours) or Manganuku Track (4 hours).
The Motu River rises in the Raukumara ranges south of Opotiki and meanders around native forest, stretching east before spilling into the sea in the northern Bay of Plenty. Its unspoiled waters are blanketed in rare and unique flora and fauna and parts of the river are protected by a conservation order to keep it in its natural state. You can explore the Motu River by raft or jet boat, or enjoy its pristine beauty while fly fishing or swimming.
White Island is the only active volcanic island in New Zealand, and is one of the world’s most accessible live volcanoes, sitting just 49km off the Bay of Plenty coast. With its impressive geothermal activity and vivid mineral hues, White Island is a must see. The volcano sits mostly submerged underwater granting visitors direct access into the crater complex. Get close up views of roaring steam vents, bubbling mud pools, hot volcanic streams and the remarkable acid lake. The island is also home to an impressive gannet colony. White Island tours are available by boat, plane and helicopter from nearby Whakatane and Ohope.
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