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Your guide to Whakatāne
All About Whakatāne
On the eastern Bay of Plenty in the North Island of New Zealand, Whakatāne is a haven of unspoiled nature, rich culture, and laid-back vibes. The region has 31 miles of beautiful coastline to explore, and the nearby beaches boast clear waters and soft sand. The abundant marine life draws divers and anglers, while kayakers, surfers, and sailors enjoy exploring from the surface. On land, there are ancient forests, hiking trails, and cycling routes to keep adventurers occupied for days. The area is the official home of the nation’s most favorite residents, the flightless kiwi bird. There are guided trails to explore their protected habitats in the nearby bush, and their calls can be heard from the town center.
The Bay of Plenty lives up to its name, with an abundance of fresh local produce making its way into the local eateries. Oysters are a popular delicacy of the region and are served in the town’s bars and restaurants. Whakatāne town itself has a relaxed atmosphere and community vibe. Independent stores offer unique gifts and crafts, representing the strong local arts scene.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Whakatāne?
As a natural paradise with endless outdoor activities and a mild, temperature climate, Whakatāne is a pleasure to visit at any time of year. Since Whakatāne is located in the southern hemisphere, summer is in January and February, boasting the warmest and driest months. Visit then and you’re bound to catch a snippet of the Summer Arts Festival, which runs from January through April. Expect live music, dance, theater, and film. Jazz in the Park is a highlight and is usually held in the local rose gardens in February.
Whakatāne in winter is both cold and wet. Although rarely reaching below freezing temperatures, you’ll still want to bundle in layers and bring along waterproof outerwear.
What are the top things to do in Whakatāne?
Te Ana o Muriwai (Muriwai’s Cave)
Now a sacred site, the cave was once home to Muriwai, an honored Mataatua priestess and ancestress. This cave was under a tapu (prohibition) since Muriwai’s death, which was eventually lifted in 1963. Found in a natural setting surrounded by kawakawa shrubs, people visit here to pay respects to the memory of the region’s priestess.
Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park
A 90-minute drive from Whakatāne, turquoise waters rush past impossibly green moss-covered rock faces at this conservation park. The diverse scenery at Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne is stunning. Follow the waterfall walking trail through the podocarp forest, which is towered over by matai, tōtara, and kahikatea trees. Bring a packed lunch to enjoy at the waterfall picnic site.
This island is a protected wildlife sanctuary and home to a number of endangered species. Take a tour to ensure your visit supports the continued conservation of this regenerated native bush. Onepū/Sulphur Bay is a secluded beach on the island, where you can dig your own hot spring pool.