Nature’s spectacular playground in Whakatāne
The Whakatāne district is renowned for its superb walking, tramping and biking trails, both coastal with incredible ocean vistas, and awe-inspiring tracks through ancient native forests. Nga Tapuwae o Toi (Footprints of Toi) walkway, connecting Whakatāne township and Ōhope Beach, offers a diverse natural landscape and spectacular scenery to rival any of New Zealand’s great walks. The 16km loop is achievable as a half-day walk, or choose shorter sections suitable for the whole family. The trail takes in an ancient pa site, rich native forest, unsurpassed coastal views, seabird colonies and native birds in abundance – all just a stones-throw from Whakatāne CBD or Ōhope village. KG Kayaks offer guided tours following the coastal section of Ngā Tapuwae o Toi. Departing from the Whakatāne Heads or West End at Ōhope Beach, discover secluded bays and spot ocean wildlife. Whakatāne also has some brilliant bike trails, with something for every skill level, ranging from an easy family cruise to adventurous mountain biking. Take the family to Onepu Mountain Bike Park, Burma Road, Ōhope Harbour side Trail or the Mōtū Dunes Trail in Ōpōtiki for relaxing rides, or meander on the Whakatāne River Warren Cole cycleway– a flat, paved ride that skirts the town.
Where spectacular is par for the course
Whakatāne’s sun filled golf courses offer crisp, dry greens year-round, coupled with spectacular scenery. Set between Ohiwa Harbour and Ōhope Beach, with views out to Whakaari/White Island on the northern side and the harbour wetlands to the south, the Ōhope International Golf Club is rate done of the top links courses in New Zealand. “The seaside terrain is as dramatic as anything in the British Isles and the views are exceptional,” says golfing expert and aficionado, Greg Turner. “This is links golf to match the very best anywhere.” Just a mere 10 minutes from town, the Whakatāne Golf Club championship level course offers another spectacularly scenic game. With fast running greensand lush forgiving fairways, the course provides players of all levels with a challenging and rewarding 18 holes.
When all of the activity becomes too much, Whakatāne has some great spots to chill out with a bite to eat and a bevvie or two. Mata Brewery, Whakatāne’s only local craft brewery, is a must visit for craft beer tasting, great pizza and regular live music. And, head down to Mexican cantina Cadera for their famous jalapeno poppers and a coconut margarita. Kathy Potter, owner of Cadera and proud local, says there’s plenty to get excited about in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. “For us that have lived and breathed Whakatane our whole lives we know why we never leave,” she enthuses. “It’s because the lifestyle, the people, the stunning scenery, the beaches, the walks, and vibe are just so easy going and all-embracing.” So, on your next trip to the sunshine capital, stay a little longer and discover why the locals know how good they’ve got it.