Family Activities in Whakatane
Stunning, affordable and convenient, Whakatane ticks all the boxes for an easy family getaway in New Zealand. The town that laps up plenty of sun in the Bay of Plenty is lined with gorgeous beaches, surrounded by natural attractions and offers educational and all-weather experiences for all. After you’ve found a suitable place to stay in its renowned family-orientated holiday parks, complete your trip with these things to do in Whakatane with kids!
For more advice, head to The Guide to Whakatane for Families.
1. Build Sandcastles on Ohope Beach
Yes, it would be a crime to visit Whakatane and Ohope with the kids and not spend some time on the beach! One of the most popular choices for families is the 11km (9-mile) Ohope Beach. In summer, there are lifeguards on patrol ensuring safe swimming between the flags, while simply building sandcastles is another pleasure to be enjoyed here. Older kids might want to learn how to surf with Salt Spray Surf School who can be found at the western end of the beach.
Location: There are several access points to Ohope Beach, approximately 8km (5 miles) from Whakatane town centre.
2. Learn About Kiwi Birds on the Fairbrother Loop Walk
Did you know that Whakatane is the “Kiwi Capital of New Zealand”? That’s right, kiwi birds can be found in the scenic reserves right on the town’s doorstep. For instance, the Fairbrother Loop Walk is a one-hour loop walk in the Ohope Scenic Reserve with information panels to learn about kiwi birds and other rare birds that live in the forest. Check out more walks like this in the 10 Must-Do Walks in Whakatane.
Location: Ohope Road, 5km (3 miles) from Whakatane town centre.
3. Kayak on the Ohiwa Harbour
A pleasant family-friendly adventure is paddling in the Ohiwa Harbour on a guided tour with KG Kayaks. This natural inlet is the ideal place for families to try their first kayaking experience with placid waters to make paddling easy. What’s more, the harbour offers opportunities for close-up wildlife encounters, including rays, large fish and even orca swim into the harbour several times a year. With tours lasting 2h30mins, it’s just enough time to enjoy with the little ones without being too exhausting.
Location: Departs in Ohope by arrangement.
4. Try Your Luck at Fishing
Do what the locals do: go fishing! Grab some bait (and some snacks for yourselves) and heading down to either Port Ohope Wharf or Whakatane Harbour for an easy fishing experience. You’ll find fishing tackle, ice and bait at the Port Ohope Store, while some accommodations have fishing rods for hire. If you don’t have one you can always head down to Ohiwa Harbour at low tide to collect pipis, cockles, mussels and oysters.
Location: Port Ohope Wharf – Harbour Road approximately 12km (7 miles) from Whakatane town centre. Whakatane Harbour – Adjacent to the township along the waterfront.
5. Pick Berries, Play Mini-golf and Feed the Animals at Julians Berry Farm & Cafe
Summer calls for berry-picking at Julians Berry Farm & Cafe! Pick yourselves a healthy snack in the fields of raspberries, blackberries, Ranui berries, boysenberries, strawberries and loganberries. Also on the farm is a mini-golf course and an animal park where you can feed the farm animals. It can all be concluded at the cafe with real-fruit ice cream!
Location: 12 Huna Road, Coastlands, approximately 6km (4 miles) from Whakatane town centre.
6. Venture Down the Historic Awakeri Railway in a Rail-cart
Whatever the weather, families can enjoy a day out on the Awakeri Railway thanks to the undercover rail-carts. There are four self-drive railway adventures, including the 2h30mins Bush Walk & Snack Run where you’ll travel the tracks then stop for a guided walk and snack in the bush. Ideal for littlies, Chicken Run takes you along 8km (5 miles) of railway to where you can help feed the birds. See more like this in the 10 Things to Do in Whakatane on a Rainy Day.
Location: Awakeri, approximately 14km (9 miles) from Whakatane town centre.
7. Have a Splash in the Awakeri Hot Springs
Relax while the kids have a splash at the thermal mineral pools of the Awakeri Hot Springs. The large swimming pool, which is partly undercover, is ideal for taking the kids for a swim in any season. The temperature of the pools is comfortable between 37 and 39ºC, while admission is irresistibly cheap. See how the pools compare in 10 Damn Relaxing Hot Pools in New Zealand.
Location: 1363 State Highway 30, Awakeri, approximately 17km (11 miles) from Whakatane town centre.
8. Enjoy a Short Walk in the Forest at the White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve
Another short walk for the whole family to enjoy is found in the White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve near Awakeri. Suitable for strollers, the short loop walk takes you into lush forest with kahikatea (the tallest trees in New Zealand) and nikau palm trees. Look out for cute little fantails, singing tui and clumsy wood pigeons along the way! For more free activities, see the 18 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Whakatane.
Location: White Pine Bush, Awakeri, approximately 14km (9 miles) from Whakatane town centre.
9. Learn About the Maori Culture at Mataatua Wharenui
An educational experience for the whole family, Mataatua Wharenui is New Zealand’s “most-travelled Maori meeting house”. Find out its fascinating story with your local guide as you tour the beautifully-carved Maori building. Learn about the legends of the local tribe, the Ngāti Awa, and see legends brought to life in a digital show within the meeting house.
Location: 105 Muriwai Drive, Whakatane town centre.
10. Spend Some Time at River Edge Park
Found on the edge of the Whakatane River and along the family-friendly Warren Cole Walkway, River Edge Park offers diverse attractions for families. Let the kids loose the Ocean Playground or Tracks skatepark or even treat them to a ride on the River Edge Park Miniature Railway. The train runs on Sundays between 10am and 3pm, weather permitting. At only NZ$2 a ride, how can you say no?!
Location: River Edge Park, McAllister Street, Whakatane town centre.