One of the sunniest towns in New Zealand, Whakatane lies where the Whakatane River meets the Bay of Plenty. It’s home to a sacred cave and Maori ancestral home and is near stunning walking trails and coastal vistas.
Things to do
Admire the magnificent Mataatua Wharenui, a beautifully-carved Māori ancestral house that only recently returned to the Ngāti Awa Māori tribe. Be welcomed into the sacred house during a traditional pōwhiri ritual or join one of the interactive cultural workshops and feasts for a more immersive experience.
A short walk from the Mataatua Wharenui is Muriwai’s Cave, one of the most sacred Maori sites in Whakatane. It’s dedicated to the memory of Muriwai, whose brother captained the great Mātaatua canoe, with carvings of the siblings flanking the cave’s entrance.
Hike through the Ohope Scenic Reserve, which encompasses one of New Zealand’s largest tracts of coastal pohutukawa forest. Explore the wetlands while keeping an eye out for tui, fantails and kiwi birds or soak up the coastal views while visiting the preserved Maori site of Tauwhare Pa.
Follow in the footsteps of the great Maori chieftain, Toi, along the Nga Tapuwae o Toi Walkway, which traverses native forest and coastal landscapes between Whakatane and Ohope Beach. It’s dotted with Maori sites of historical significance and offers panoramic views of the volcanic peaks of Whakaari and Mount Tarawera.
Whakatane is around one hour’s drive from Rotorua Airport and Tauranga Airport. Buses connect the town to nearby Ohope, but having your own vehicle is the most convenient way of getting around.
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