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Your guide to Ōhope
All About Ōhope
With its seven miles of golden beach lapped by the waves of the Pacific Ocean and a backdrop of forest-covered hills, Ōhope is one of New Zealand’s most popular coastal areas, but it never feels crowded. From the beach, you have views of green, humpback Moutohorā/Whale Island and the offshore stratovolcano of Whakaari/White Island 30 miles away, often to be seen with a puff of steam rising from it.
On the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, Ōhope is in the Bay of Plenty, whose name reflects the area’s rich sea life and nature. A beachside road makes it easy to access your own piece of sandy paradise for swimming and surfing. There’s a small village with cafes and a general store and, beside the beach, picnic tables pepper grassy parkland shaded by pohutukawa trees. The central part of the beach is patrolled by lifeguards, while the West End is popular with surfers.
A great way to explore Ōhope and its beautiful surroundings is the Ngā Tapuwae o Toi walking track. The name means “footprints of Toi,” in honor of the Māori mariner who made landfall here many hundreds of years ago. With stunning clifftop views, forests rich in birdlife, and a number of historic pā (hilltop fort) sites, this loop takes around six hours, or you could complete just a section or two.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Ōhope
The eastern Bay of Plenty is a very sunny part of New Zealand, with long, warm summers and mild winters. In summer (December through March) the whole coast is a blaze of crimson as the pohutukawa trees flower in December and January. Ōhope accommodation is extremely popular over this period as locals flock to the beach during the school summer holidays. When fall (March through June) rolls around, temperatures start to drop and more than 1,500 tree species burst into a kaleidoscope of color at McLaren Falls Park. Winter (June through September) is rarely bitterly cold here. The mild days of spring (September through December) are accompanied by light winds, and the region experiences less rainfall than elsewhere in the country.
On the first and third Saturday of the month throughout spring and summer, the village hall plays host to Ōhope Craft Market with a wide variety of artisan foods, crafts, and fresh produce on offer. A visit in February coincides with the Ōhope Local Wild Food Challenge at Mahy Reserve, with live music, a beer garden, and food stalls with cooking demonstrations.
Top things to do in Ōhope
The sheltered waters of Ōhiwa Harbour are tucked behind the southern end of Ōhope Beach. Explore on foot or by bike on the harbourside trail, or travel by boat or kayak to explore isolated inlets and islands. This is an important habitat for wetland shorebirds, so look out for godwits and dotterels, then pick up some fish and chips to enjoy sitting on the jetty, looking out on the still water reflecting the blues and greens of the surrounding hills.
Picturesque, secluded Ōtarawairere Bay feels a world away even though it is only a half-hour walk from Ōhope Beach across a rocky bluff. The views from the highest point take in both beaches and look right out to sea. Arriving at Ōtarawairere feels like finding your own secret cove, as aqua waters crash onto the rocks and plovers and oystercatchers forage and nest along the shoreline. You can also drive up behind the beach for a shorter walk.
Ōhope Scenic Reserve
Minutes from the village, the red wooden arch at the entrance to Ōhope Scenic Reserve is ornately carved with traditional figures from Māori mythology. It takes around an hour to walk the Fairbrother Loop track through lush native forest, and you may even be lucky enough to see or hear a kiwi, especially if you visit at dusk or later.