The Guide to Whakatane for Families© Tourism Bay of Plenty
The Guide to Whakatane for Families

The Travel Guide to Whakatane for Families

© Tourism Bay of Plenty

The Family Guide to Whakatane and Ohope

Summer calls for a beach escape, which can easily be enjoyed with a family getaway to Whakatane and Ohope. The coastal town offers an array of cultural and natural experiences for all ages, from paddling over the still waters of Ohiwa Harbour to engaging in the Maori culture at the iconic Mataatua Wharenui. Connect with nature, even in the bustling centre with reserves home to kiwi birds, and connect with each other with a wealth of beaches, playgrounds and family-friendly hot pools to enjoy.

Plan your family accommodation, activities and more with this family travel guide to Whakatane and Ohope.

Things to Do in Whakatane with Kids

  • Build sandcastles on Ohope Beach
  • Learn about kiwi birds on the Fairbrother Loop Walk
  • Paddle on the Ohiwa Harbour with KG Kayaks
  • Try your luck at fishing off Port Ohope Wharf or Whakatane Harbour
  • Pick berries, play mini-golf and feed the animals at Julians Berry Farm & Cafe
  • Venture down the historic Awakeri Railway in a rail-cart
  • Have a splash in the Awakeri Hot Springs
  • Enjoy a short walk in the forest at the White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve
  • Learn about the Maori culture at Mataatua Wharenui
  • Spend some time at River Edge Park.

For more details on each activity, head to the 10 Things to Do in Whakatane with Kids.

The Guide to Whakatane for Families©

Family Adventure Activities

Want to know what it’s like to be a Kiwi family living on the coast of New Zealand? There are plenty of adventure experiences to do just that, from kayaking to fishing and more.

A nice 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 family kayaking experience with placid waters to make paddling easy. What’s more, the harbour offers opportunities to see wildlife close-up, including rays and large fish. 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.

Kiwi families also like to go fishing, which visitors can also enjoy by grabbing some bait (and some snacks for yourselves) and heading down to either Port Ohope Wharf or Whakatane Harbour for an easy and affordable 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.

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. Enjoy a day playing mini-golf and feeding the farm animals at the animal park.

For more ideas and location information, check out the 10 Things to Do in Whakatane with Kids.

The Guide to Whakatane for Families© Tourism Bay of Plenty

All-weather Family Activities

Despite Whakatane and the Bay of Plenty being quite a sunny region of New Zealand, it has been known to rain. If you find yourself in the area on a rainy day, you still have some fantastic all-weather activities to enjoy.

An educational experience for the whole family, Mataatua Wharenui is New Zealand’s “most-travelled Maori meeting house”. Find out its fascinating story at this beautifully-carved Maori building, which also makes for good cover if it’s raining. Learn about the local legends of the local tribe, the Ngāti Awa, and see the legends brought to life in a digital show within the meeting house.

Whatever the weather, families can enjoy a day out on the Awakeri Railway thanks to the undercover rail-carts taking you along the historic railway on a self-drive adventure. There are four different adventures, from the 2h30mins Bush Walk & Snack Run to the short one ideal for littlies, Chicken Run, where you help feed the birds.

Have a splash in 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 between 37 and 39ºC (99 and 102ºF). What’s more, the pools are irresistibly cheap.

For more activities like this, check out the 10 Things to Do in Whakatane on a Rainy Day.

The Guide to Whakatane for Families© Tourism Bay of Plenty

Free Family Activities

Finally, you don’t have to blow your budget to have an amazing time in Whakatane. The beaches, walks and natural attractions will keep the whole family entertained on the cheap.

Take the Fairbrother Loop Walk, a one-hour loop walk with information panels to learn about kiwi birds and other rare birds that live in the forest. The walk can be found in the Ohope Scenic Reserve with parking just off Ohope Road.

Another short walk to enjoy is found in the White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve near Awakeri. Suitable for strollers, the short loop walk takes you into lush native bush with kahikatea (the tallest trees in New Zealand) and nikau palm trees. Look out for cute little fantails along the way.

Finally, 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 long-stretching 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.

For more like this, see the 18 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Whakatane.

More About Whakatane and Ohope

That’s it from the travel guide to Whakatane for families. Discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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