For decades, New Zealanders have been visiting the Eastern Bay for the typical Kiwi vacation experience, and today the entire world is beginning to learn and understand why it is so. Whakatāne is a coastal town in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, North Island of New Zealand, located 90 km (56 miles) east of Tauranga and 89 km (55 mi) north-east of Rotorua, at the mouth of the Whakatāne River. Check out our top picks for how to fill your time there!
1. Muriwai's Cave
Muriwai’s Cave or Te Ana o Muriwai is one of the most revered and historically noteworthy locations in the Whakatāne region. It is one of the three landmarks Toroa was expressed to search by his father, Irakewa, when the Mataatua canoe arrived at Kakahoroa. The other landmarks are Te Wairere (Wairere Falls) and Te Toka o Irakewa (Irakewa Rock). The cave can accommodate up to 60 people at one time. Muriwai is a treasured and privileged ancestress of the Mataatua tribes, who has tolerated many a century. This cave is dedicated to their memory and stays to this day a special place in the heart of Whakatāne.
Address: Muriwai Dr, Whakatane 3120, New Zealand
Website: Muriwai’s Cave
2. Pohaturoa Rock
When in Whakatāne, you will be able to admire the stunningly beautiful, natural landmark called Pohaturoa Rock. In the olden times, Pohaturoa was born through the unification of Tane and Hinetuparimaunga, known as Te Kahui ki Uta. Ngāti Awa’s spiritual, carnal and ancestral connection as Tangata Whenua is to Pohaturoa. Ngāti Awa tribe have always performed ceremonies of birth, death, war and other important affairs at Pohaturoa. In the past, its higher levels aided as source shelves for the bones of the illustrious deceased. The arch in the rock, which was once a cave, is called Te Arikirau. Here, the tribal Tohunga would perform moko (a tattoo ritual).
The Waiewe Stream, which now drifts beneath Pohaturoa, was once used to induct young men engaged in endemic warfare into manhood, and sacramental rituals were performed upon children of high rank. Currently, the Pohaturoa Rock remains an important piece of history to the Whakatāne community. This natural flair sums up to the unique feature of the town and is considered as an idol of peace between Māori and Pakeha, combining time from old to new.
Address: 119 The Strand, Whakatāne 3120, New Zealand
Website: Pohaturoa Rock
3. Ōhope Beach
Ōhope Beach is a flawless summer holiday destination for ample sunshine, warm waters and safe swimming, with 11 km (6.8 mi) of effortlessly walkable white sand beach from the Ōhiwa Harbour, all the way to the West End. Otarawairere Bay is the veiled phenomenon of the Whakatāne-Ōhope area. This private beach is open only for people on foot or by kayak, but the trip is definitely worth the time.
Ohiwa Harbour is one of the natural gems of the area where you can go about exploring its islands by kayak or yacht, or spend a day jet skiing, water skiing or sail boarding. It is also a safe swimming spot for children. The neighbouring hills are scattered with Pā sites, counting Tauwhare Pā close to the junction at Ōpōtiki.
Address: 367 Harbour Road, Ohope 3121, New Zealand
4. Whakatāne River Walk (Warren Cole Walkway & River Edge Walkway)
Surrounded by the Whakatāne River on one side and bushy cliffs on the other, Whakatāne’s Commercial Centre has one of the most picturesque locations any urban city could request for. The major historic and charming features of the town are encompassed in this interesting and easy walk, which shadows the river to the Whakatāne Heads where the river encounters the sea.
The Warren Cole Walkway commences at Landing Road and tracks the southern bank of the river to the Whakatāne Gardens, the Skate Park and River Edge Playground. The trail then primes onto The Promenade, which passes the Whakatāne Visitor Information Centre, and then onto the River Edge walkway to The Heads. The riverbank path leads downstream through the Mataatua Reserve. This cultivated land conceals the original landing place of the Mataatua Waka and includes a shelter, which houses a replica of the Mataatua Waka.
Whakatāne River Walk
Address: The Strand, Whakatane, New Zealand
5. Kohi Point Lookout
You will see the remnants of old Pā sites besides the square bores in the ground here. Spot the blotches where they were used as defences by the natives. Check out the dwellings and food pits and then admire the small pouches of Pohutakawa, Rewarewa, Mahoe, Five fingers, and Kanuka trees along this walk. Take a moment and heed the call of the tui, bellbirds, fantails, warblers and pigeons. On a sunny day, it’s impossible to locate a better walk so near to the coastal town. With a fanciful view of the coast, taking a stroll out to the point will not leave you disappointed.
Kohi Point Lookout
Address: Kohi Point Lookout Rd, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand
Website: Kohi Point Lookout
6. Whakatane Museum and Arts
Whakatāne relishes a vivacious arts and culture scene that includes music, art, dance, sculpture, and traditional Māori art, all culminating in a popular Summer Arts Festival. The roots of the museum date back to 1933, with the development of the Bay of Plenty, Māori and Historical Research Society. Their labors were shortened by the occurrence of World War II, and the society fell into retreat. In 1952, the Whakatāne District and Historical Society was started, thereafter forming a society with the intention of constructing a public museum. Currently, the museum provides an animated agenda of exhibitions at Te Kōputu and research services at the Whakatāne Museum and Research Centre.
Te Kōputu a te whanga a Toi, Whakatāne’s respected library and exhibition centre, is a must-visit. At its core is the museum, where you can take a journey to discover the exceptional pre-Māori and European settlement of the district. Intertwined galleries comprise collection-based exhibitions or works by local, national and internationally renowned artists that enrich the mind and spirit and stimulate the senses
Whakatāne Museum and Arts
Address: 11 Boon St, Whakatāne 3120, New Zealand
Website: Whakatāne Museum and Arts
7. Mataatua: The House That Came Home
Built in 1875, Mataatua toured Sydney, Melbourne, Victoria & Albert Museum and South Kensington Museum (London), Dunedin and Otago (South Island) before being rebuilt back in its original place in Whakatāne, in 2011. After 136 years, the Mataatua Wharenui stands firmly on the ground to merge the soul of the Ngati Awa, earning it the moniker - The House That Came Home. Your expedition at the Mataatua will kindle the soul within as you learn the story of a house that has voyaged through time. Mataatua is a living and breathing being and the true experience provides an opportunity for intimate engagement with the people of Ngati Awa
Address: 105 Muriwai Dr, Whakatāne, 3120, New Zealand
8. Nga Tapuwae o Toi Track
Nga Tapuwae o Toi (Footprints of Toi), is a pathway which arrests the spirit of the Whakatāne District. It comprises pa sites of foremost historic worth, excellent aboriginal forest, remarkable pohutukawa stands, incomparable coastal sights, seabird colonies, forest birds in profusion, plantation forest and rural landscapes.
The track contains three significant picturesque reserves - Kohi Point Scenic Reserve, Ōhope Scenic Reserve and Mokoroa Scenic Reserve. The pathway is open to most people, irrespective of fitness capability, since it can be commenced in segments or as a complete 16 km (10 mi) round trip, which can be accomplished in six to seven hours. If you anticipate in completing the entire round trip, it is suggested you do so in a clockwise direction; due to increased challenges in the opposite direction.
Nga Tapuwae o Toi Track
Address: Nga Tapuwae o Toi Track, Whakatāne, New Zealand
Website: Nga Tapuwae o Toi Track
A place to redeem your life
Get Trip101 in your inbox