How to Visit Whakatane on a Budget
Escape the hustle and bustle of the Bay of Plenty’s more popular towns, like Tauranga and Rotorua, to the peaceful coastal town of Whakatane. Lined with stunning beaches, packed with walks and affordable attractions, Whakatane is a budget traveller’s paradise. It’s a holiday destination that only the locals seem to know and love, so join them and discover its rich Maori culture, bushwalks and more. Learn more in this travel guide to Whakatane on a budget.
Budget Tips for Whakatane
- Visit in the low season (May to November) to see accommodation and activity discounts
- Stay in one of the budget accommodations in Whakatane
- Consider staying in one of the backpacker accommodations to get the cheapest accommodation
- Stay in self-catering accommodation so you can save money by cooking your own meals
- You don’t necessarily need a car to enjoy Whakatane, as many sights are in the city centre and the Bayhopper public buses are also available to keep transport costs to a minimum.
For more general budgeting advice, take a look at the 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.
Free Activities in Whakatane
On the coast of some of New Zealand’s “favourite” beaches, it would be a crime to not get some beach time in Whakatane. Enjoying the beaches around Whakatane is free, like Ohope Beach, for a long walk on the beach, safe swimming between the flags in summer and even surf lessons at the west end of the 11km (7-mile) beach if your budget will allow.
A beachy hidden gem of the area is Otarawairere Bay. After a short walk over the headlands of western Ohope Beach, you’ll discover the picturesque bay lined with pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas trees) and shores scattered with seashells.
Say you don’t have beach weather while visiting Whakatane, you’re next best option is the Te Koputu a Te Whanga a Toi, i.e. the Whakatane Library and Exhibition Centre. This is Whakatane’s museum found in the town centre, featuring ever-changing exhibitions of art, culture and the Bay of Plenty history.
And a free activity you can rely on in just about any town in New Zealand, the walking trails are also pretty epic in Whakatane. There are a ton of amazing walks in and around the town, which we list in the 10 Must-Do Walks in Whakatane. One of our favourites is the Nga Tapu o Toi walk, which is an 18km (11-mile) loop covering the coastal land and historical sites across Whakatane and Ohope.
For more information on each activity and more, check out the 18 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Whakatane.
Cheap Activities in Whakatane
Have a little cash to spare in your budget? Then you probably won’t mind checking out these additional attractions in Whakatane.
Outside of the town are some of New Zealand’s most affordable hot pools. The Awakeri Hot Springs is a hot pool complex with a swimming pool, smaller hot pool and private hot pools. The pools are fed with natural mineral geothermal water, while all you need to do is feed the lovely lady at the desk an affordable admission fee.
Our next recommendation, while technically free to visit, will cost you a little in fuel. The Whirinaki Forest Park is a 1h45mins drive from Whakatane, which is surprisingly one of the closest towns to this remote part of the country. It’s well worth the journey though, with beautiful bushwalks in the midst of 1,000-year-old trees, birds and waterfalls.
Finally, whether you’re a foodie or have a family to entertain, the berry farms surrounding Whakatane are a good cheap activity to be occupied with. Watch the orchard workers pack berries through the viewing windows at Blueberry Corner or play mini golf and feed the farm animals at Julians Berry Farm. Note that these venues are only open from late September through to March.
Again, for more inspiration on activities, check out the 18 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Whakatane.
Cheap Eats in Whakatane
While it’s a good idea to cook your own meals in your self-catering accommodation to save money on food, we also recommend treating yourself to some of the cheap eats in Whakatane – especially the seafood delights! For instance, head to the Ohiwa Oyster Farm (111 Wainui Road, Ohope) for oysters under NZ$10. Alternatively, Wally’s on the Wharf (2 The Strand) sells fresh fish and chips and Coromandel mussels.
For alternative Kiwi food, check out Deli Roasts (18 Richardson Street) for hot sandwiches, rolls and burgers, or The Quart House Bar (115B The Strand) for ultra-cheap pub grub.
Some decent and affordable cafes to try include Cafe Coco (10 Richardson Street), Cafe 4U (93 The Strand), The Bakehouse Cafe (36 Richardson Street) and White Island Cafe (15 The Strand).
For more recommendations head to our Cheap Eats in Whakatane.