Food Experiences in Whakatane and Ohope
Escape to the Bay of Plenty where seafood, fruit and sweet treats are in abundance and a speciality of the small town of Whakatane. So into their local fare, the town even hosts a “wild food” event to celebrate the region’s food found in the wild. Restaurants don’t try to be too over-the-top, they simply serve creative dishes often with local produce and talent. With a strong Maori presence, Whakatane is also the ideal place to try authentic Maori cuisine.
So, check out the foodie experiences, activities and events in this list of things to do in Whakatane for foodies. While you’re here, complete planning your trip with The Foodie Guide to Whakatane and the 10 Best Accommodation in Whakatane for Foodies.
1. Pick Your Own Berries at One of the Berry Farms
First, let’s talk about Whakatane’s famous berry farms! You have two fantastic options, starting with the Blueberry Corner where you can watch the packers at work through the viewing windows into the packhouse, as well as dine on fruity treats at the cafe and pick up unique blueberry gifts to take home. Next, you have Julians Berry Farm & Cafe which has a diverse range of activities like mini-golf and a farm park. On the foodie side, you can pick your own berries, try a Kiwi favourite real-fruit ice cream, and more at the cafe. Note that the farms are only open during the berry season between September and March.
Location: Blueberry Corner – 364 Thornton Road. Julians Berry Farm & Cafe – 12 Huna Road.
2. Try Craft Beers at the Mata Brewery & Tasting Room
New Zealand loves its craft beer, so see if you do too at the Mata Brewery & Tasting Room. The family-run brewery pours award-winning craft beers where tasting trays are available so you can experience them all! Combine with a pizza or bar snacks and you have a relaxing foodie afternoon ahead.
Location: 17 Gateway Crescent
3. Try Authentic Maori Food
Rich in Maori culture and history, Whakatane is an easy place in New Zealand to experience the indigenous cuisine. For instance, do a full cultural tour a Mataatua, New Zealand’s most famous Maori meeting house, where the experience concludes with a sumptuous feast in the dining hall or “wharekai”. You’ll get to try local delicacies and Maori cuisine. Alternatively, NATIVConnectioNZ offers personal Moari tours including a traditional hangi, which is food cooked in an underground oven.
Location: Mataatua – 105 Muriwai Drive. NATIVConnectioNZ meeting points are organised individually.
4. Do a Fudge Tasting at Tui Aotearoa
Not only a quirky gift shop with New Zealand-made gifts, Tui Aotearoa offers free tastings of their array of flavoured fudge before you buy. All of their fudge is made in-house and consist of 12 yummy flavours, including crème brulee, lemon meringue, maple walnut, double chocolate and new ones popping up often.
Location: 102 The Strand
5. Pick Up Some Bay of Plenty Chocolates
More sweet treats can be found nestled in a florist shop along The Strand! Scilla Chocolates creates an array of handmade Belgium chocolates in all sorts of shapes and flavours. Put them in a Whakatane or Ohope-designed box and you have the perfect gift from your travels. We also list this activity in The Honeymoon Guide to Whakatane.
Location: 230 The Strand
6. Mingle with the Locals at the Whakatane Sunday Market
If you find yourself in Whakatane on a Sunday morning, head down to the Whakatane Sunday Market! Browse an array of stalls selling all sorts, from organically grown fruit and vegetables to honey and award-winning olive oils. You’ll also find handmade crafts should you be looking for some unique souvenirs to take home. The market takes place between 8am and 1pm.
Location: 7 Short Street
7. Indulge in New Zealand Flavours at Whakatane’s Restaurants
Enjoy the casual environment and often stunning views from Whakatane’s eateries. A must in Whakatane is the seafood, at places like the Fisherman’s Wharf in Ohope, a casual fish and chips joint with million-dollar vistas of the Ohiwa Harbour. Or head to Ohiwa Oyster Farm for, well, oysters! Evening meals are best enjoyed at the likes of Roquette Restaurant & Bar with their well-presented plates of New Zealand and European cuisine, or Soulsa Restaurant with a menu incorporating venison, lamb, steak, fish, duck and vegetarian dishes. Check out more recommendations in The Foodie Guide to Whakatane.
Location: Fisherman’s Wharf – 340 Harbour Road, Ohope. Ohiwa Oyster Farm – 111 Wainui Road, Ohope. Roquette Restaurant & Bar – 23-29 Quay Street. Soulsa Restaurant – 14 Richardson Street.
8. Fish for Your Own Dinner
Experience the joys of catching your own dinner on one of the many fishing experiences in Whakatane. For surfcasting, head to Otarawairere Bay or The Heads at the mouth of the Whakatane River if you have your own gear. Alternatively, Lindsay from Ezyfishing Charters will show you the ropes. Along the rivers, catch a trout with Be Guided Trout Fishing Adventure, which is the only way you can try trout in New Zealand, as it’s illegal to sell commercially. Or head out on the ocean with one of the many fishing charters to tackle the likes of Yellow-fin Tuna, Skipjack Tuna and Marlin in the summer and Snapper, Tarakihi and Kingfish all year round. See more like this in the 8 Luxury Activities in Whakatane.
Location: Fishing charters depart from Whakatane Harbour (along The Strand) and Port Ohope. Some tours also offer pick-ups.
9. Catch the Local Wild Food Challenge
Each year around the last Saturday of October, Whakatane and Ohope host the Local Wild Food Challenge! The challenge is for contestants to hunt, gather and forage for local wild ingredients to make unique foods, but it’s an event for all to enjoy. The day consists of live music, lots of opportunities to try local wild foods, and enjoy the mellow atmosphere of a classic Kiwi event.
Location: Mahy Reserve, Ohope.