Whakatane: A coastal paradise

A thousand years ago, the mighty Chieftan Toi crossed the Pacific Ocean in a huge waka (canoe) and landed in Whakatane.

A thousand years ago, the mighty Chieftan Toi crossed the Pacific Ocean in a huge waka (canoe) and landed in the eastern Bay of Plenty. Discovering paradise, he founded Whakatane.

Toi’s adventurous voyage inspired the mood of the town forever. Whakatane (“focka-tarnay”) embraces the great outdoors - especially activities based around the water.

The bustling town (population 15,024) sits on the mouth of the Whakatane River, and is around 90km from Tauranga, 250km from Auckland, and 500km from Wellington. Many Whakatane homes look out from the green hills behind the central business district to the sparkling Pacific Ocean, dotted with islands and boats.

The warm coastal waters offer magnificent game fishing, as well as diving, whale watching and swimming with dolphins. Just over the hill is magnificent Ohope Beach, a family playground and Ohiwa Harbour, a tidal harbour of international ecological significance. Ohiwa is home to many rare and endangered birds, as well as being a perfect spot for swimming, kayaking and boating.

Basking in a friendly year-round climate, Whakatane is sensational for outdoor pursuits.

“The Heads” of Whakatane attracts surfers, and the Whakatane river frequently jostles with waka ama (a fast growing sport involving teams of paddlers) and kayaks. Other local rivers offer white water rafting. Less than an hour’s drive away, is the Rangitaiki river, offering some of the world’s best trout fishing.

If you enjoy walking or running, living in Whakatane you’ll enjoy stunning terrain, notably on the Nga Tapuwai o Toi track (Maori for ‘in the footsteps of Toi’) which starts virtually in the town centre, and twists around to the glorious expanse of Ohope beach. (There are also plenty of walking groups and a very popular, family-focused, athletics and harrier club.)

For the less actively inclined, there are incredible beaches within minutes of Whakatane’s central business district, and outside the summer holiday season (December-January) they’re virtually empty. Golden sands and secluded coves abound, with the mild climate enabling you to make the most of them.

Great for the kids

If you’re on holiday with children Whakatane is naturally family friendly, with plenty of parks, gentle walks, safe beaches and camping grounds.  It’s the perfect place to relax for a few days and experience authentic New Zealand.

For more information, please go to www.whakatane.com.


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