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Nga Tapuwae o Toi – all encompassing nature
A good place to start stretching your legs is right behind the "hole in the rock" in the centre of Whakatāne. Steep steps take you onto Nga Tapuwai o Toi track, which twists and turns 10km up and over the bush-clad ridge behind the town, and around to the glorious expanse of Ohope beach.
The track's name is Maori for 'in the footsteps of Toi' - Toi was a paramount chief who arrived here by waka 1000 or so years ago. Don't miss taking a breather at the site of Kapu-te-rangi, Toi's hilltop stronghold, to catch the incredible panorama stretching from the volcanic peaks of Whaakari (White Island) to Mt Tarawera – over 100km apart.
After about an hour's walking, including some pretty steep ups and downs, you’re overlooking Kohi Point, where DOC-managed Motuhora – Whale Island – looms close. A little further is the track's highlight for a real sense of holiday magic. Otarawairere beach is a secluded paradise cove where the waves crash in over broken-shell sands, gnarled pohutukawa push out from the hill behind - and ten other people amounts to a crowd.
If you've got youngsters or just fancy a less strenuous outing, walk to Otarawairere from Ohope – there are still plenty of steps but the track is well formed and not long. Take my word: the puff up the hill is rewarded ten-fold. My own children have spent hours on the beach, collecting the treasure of sun-bleached shells.
Visit Whakatane Information Office for maps and information.