A mindful escape in Whakatāne

A mindful escape in Whakatāne
  • Written by
  • Dyani Van Basten Batenburg

It’s fair to say 2021 has not been the year we moved onwards from Covid that we anticipated. Up until August, Kiwi’s were living in a state of COVID-free bliss, unaware of the lockdown about to hit. Facing lockdown for a second time, and the uncertainty that the delta variant brings, has resulted in increased anxiety on a number of levels. If there was ever a time to plan a true escape, to a place with space to be safe and just breathe, now is it.

Whether we’re able to travel now or just dream about it, Whakatāne is the perfect destination to take a mindful break. Blessed with expanses of breath-taking landscapes, it’s not uncommon to have a walking trail almost to yourself or your closest companion at the beach, just a dot in the distance. If you’re after a more intrepid discovery, a journey into the inland parts of the Whakatāne District, from Rangitāiki River to Whirinaki Te Pua a Tāne and Te Urewera will deliver an experience like no other. Connecting Whakatāne town centre and Ōhope Beach is the Ngā Tapuwae o Toi walking trail. This 16 kilometre loop is diverse in nature and steeped in history. Enjoy coastal vistas as far as the eye can see and rich native bush. Be sure to look at who’s rustling in the bushes – with the area home to over 300 wild Kiwi, you might even spot them during daylight hours. Stop for a swim along the way at Ōtarawairere Bay and fuel up at one of Ōhope Village’s cafes. The trail can be completed in sections or as a round trip. Ōhiwa Harbour is an ocean and nature- lovers playground. Situated at the eastern end of Ōhope Beach, explore secluded islands by boat, kayak or paddle board. Spot rare birdlife or have a go at flounder fishing. If you’re after a fast-paced experience, hit the ski lane or, if the wind is up, try kitesurfing. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to outdoor adventures in the Whakatāne District. The inland lakes, rivers and walkways are spectacular and well worth a road trip. And avid cyclists won’t be disappointed either, with trails to suit those who like to meander or adrenalin-fuelled mountain bikers.

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