Try These Whakatane Activities!
On the coast of the Bay of Plenty region, Whakatane is the ultimate destination to experience a fine balance of outstanding nature, authentic culture and unique experiences. The North Island town is dotted with coastal forest home to native wildlife like kiwi birds, as well as having an ever-present view of the billowing marine volcano, White Island. Whakatane has been a significant part of the Maori culture for centuries so finding a real Maori experience is never too difficult. Learn about all the ways to experience Whakatane in this list of amazing things to do in Whakatane!
With all the amazing activities in Whakatane, no doubt you’ll want to stay awhile. With that in mind, we’ve also put together this list of 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Whakatane to help you save the cents on accommodation!
1. Go Kiwi Spotting in the Ohope Scenic Reserve
Let’s kick off our list of the best things to do in Whakatane with Kiwi spotting! Day or night, the Ohope Scenic Reserve is an awesome place to experience nature between Whakatane and Ohope. It’s one of the largest remaining pohutukawa forests left on the mainland and is an important habitat for North Island Brown Kiwi. Join the Whakatane Kiwi Trust for their kiwi night walks or enjoy one of the many trails through this natural and spiritually significant reserve.
Location: Corner of Pohutukawa Avenue and Ohope Road.
2. Go Mountain Biking
Do you have a bike? Are you wondering what to do in Whakatane? Don’t! If you love exploring on two wheels, then Whakatane is going to spoil you silly! With three dedicated mountain bike parks in the area and several scenic bike trails, Whakatane is a great place to spend some time mountain biking in New Zealand. Don’t miss the Burma Road with 10-15km options to spend a day out in the countryside. Alternatively, the Whirinaki Forest Mountain Bike Track is worth the 1h50min pilgrimage into the wilderness to experience this mind-blowing forest. For more details, see Mountain Biking in Whakatane.
3. Walk in the White Pine Bush Reserve
For some short walks among some sensational coastal forest, take a stroll in the White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve. The walks are only 30-40 minutes long on loops, making it a great side activity to your time in Whakatane. The forest is a haven for native birds and a great opportunity to see kahikatea trees (white pines), which are the tallest tree species in New Zealand, and nikau palm trees.
Location: White Pine Bush Road just off State Highway 2 near Awakeri.
4. Go Kayaking
Next on our list of things to do in Whakatane is Kayaking! Whakatane is one of our top places to sea kayak in New Zealand! Our favourite spots include a voyage over to the wildlife sanctuary of Whale Island or in the Ohiwa Harbour to kayak among the mangroves and pohutukawa trees.
Location: Ohope. 7km from Whakatane.
5. Relax in the Awakeri Hot Springs
If you are still wondering what to do in Whakatane on a rainy day, the Awakeri Hot Springs are a great option. Unwind in the natural geothermal mineral pools of the Awakeri Hot Springs. Choose from a large thermal swimming pool, two kids pool and smaller hot pool shaded by sails. It’s the perfect place to relax if the weather is not playing ball or you need to soothe your muscles after a long time on the road.
Location: Awakeri. 16km from Whakatane.
6. Visit Ohope Beach
One of the most popular Whakatane attraction is actually out of town, in Ohope. Find out why Ohope Beach is one of New Zealand’s top holiday getaways for locals by visiting this 11km stretch of stunning beach. It was voted as New Zealand’s “most loved beach”. Highlights of this huge beach include Otarawairere Bay, which is only accessed by foot from West End at low tide or by kayak. The west end is also a good base for paddleboarding and surfing.
Location: Ohope Beach. 7km from Whakatane.
7. Walk or Cycle the Warren Cole Walkway
For a free thing to do right in the heart of Whakatane, check out the Warren Cole Walkway. The 4.3km walkway and cycleway follow the Whakatane River passing several large pouwhenua (Maori carvings) ranging from 2 to 4m tall.
Location: Entry from the car park beside the Landing Road Bridge or from the Whakatane Rose Gardens on McGarvey Road.
8. Go Fishing
If you’re only going to go sea fishing once in New Zealand then Whakatane is definitely a place you want to consider! Year-round you can catch snapper, kingfish and more, while from December to late April, catch yellowfin, skipjack, albacore tuna, shark and marlin. There are plenty of charter boat operators to give you a memorable experience, otherwise, Matata and Thornton beaches are the best beaches for land-based ocean fishing. Learn more in What You Need to Know About Fishing in New Zealand.
9. Visit the Mataatua Wharenui
Experience the Maori culture at one of New Zealand’s most significant meeting houses, Mataatua Wharenui. See the stunning carvings and experience the rituals of visiting a Maori meeting house in a wharenui that has travelled all over the world in the last 130 years. The meeting house is known as “The House That Came Home”. For more Maori experiences in New Zealand, check out 13 Places to Experience Maori Culture in New Zealand.
Location: 105 Muriwai Drive.
10. Walk on an Active Marine Volcano [CLOSED]
[Update: Following a major eruption, tours on White Island have been suspended until further notice.]
Probably the most popular of all Whakatane attractions, White Island is spectacular. Off the shores of Whakatane is New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, White Island. Tours to White Island, either by boat or by helicopter, take you onto the volcano itself to walk the lively landscape that you won’t believe exists on planet Earth! See the steaming crater, streams of vibrant colours and the eerie remains of machinery on the island.
Location: Tours depart from The Strand and 216 Aerodrome Road.