Located in the eastern part of the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s North Island, Whakatane is situated at the mouth of its namesake river and is set midway between Rotorua and Tauranga. The main town of the Bay of Plenty, Whakatane holidays are famous for their sunshine with the city being one of New Zealand’s sunniest towns. Whakatane is also known for its fishing, adventure sports, nature encounters, walks and hot springs.
This Whakatane travel guide is designed to help you make the most of this diverse region. From the incredible active volcano of White Island to the 10km white sand beach of Ohope, the native forests and Maori historical sites to the nature encounters and big game fishing, Whakatane is a relaxing holiday destination that offers something for everyone.
Whakatane offers a diverse range of activities and attractions, from fishing and diving to dolphin encounters, forest walks, adventure sports, hot springs and museums and galleries. Just off the shores of Whakatane, White Island is home to the only marine volcano in New Zealand. A popular attraction, this incredible active volcano can be visited on a guided tour of the island, complete with hard hat and gas mask! Nearby, the 10km white sandy beach of Ohope offers a charming settlement popular for walking, surfing, camping and relaxing in the sun. Other Whakatane attractions include Maori historical sites, a museum and observatory as well as seabird colonies and native forests. There are also some amazing wildlife encounters available including seal tours and swimming with dolphins, available from November.
The name Whakatane translates to mean ‘to play the man’. The Lady on the Rock is a bronze statue on top of Turuturu Rock at Whakatane Heads memorialises Wairaka, the wife of Sir William Sullivan, who unwittingly gave the region its name. First arriving in Whakatane after a dangerous voyage, Wairaka was left along in a canoe while the men went ashore. The canoe began to drift away and, defying the cultural law forbidding women to operate canoes, she paddled to shore crying ‘Kia Whakatane au i ahau’ which translates to ‘I will play the part of the man’. Thus the name of the town originated. Whakatane is famous for its fishing, with more yellow fin tuna caught in Whakatane than anywhere else in New Zealand.