Whakatane/ White Island

Visit Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, NZ

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  • Whakatane, one hours 30 minutes’ drive south of Tauranga, along the coast of the Bay of Plenty, is the main town in its district, a centre for shopping and transport links, and a great place for sightseeing, adventure activities, and hot mineral pools.

    Whakatane has a very long history of Maori occupation; an estimated 40% of local people are of Maori descent. The region became a prominent in the colonial wars of the 1870s. The town’s museum and guided tours provide educational experiences.

    The land around Whakatane is used mainly for dairy farming, commercial forestry and horticulture. But areas of native bush remain and are popular for hiking and hunting.

    Accommodation in Whakatane (NZ)

    Whakatane has hospitality  for those on a budget, including bed and breakfast (B&B), backpackers and farmstay / homestay accommodation. More luxurious options include holiday homes, self-contained apartments and cottages, motels, hotels and lodges. Campers and motorhome drivers are catered for at holiday parks.

    Tourist Activities at Whakatane

    Enthusiasts of fishing and/or diving can join charter expeditions to some excellent locations, including White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano.

    Whakatane is also popular for surfing, sailing and kayaking. Boat cruises for whale watching and swimming in dolphins are available all year round.

    Many hiking trails and bush walks around the Whakatane area offer spectacular views and an interesting look at unique ecology and birdlife – a photographer’s dream.

    Scenic flights, by aircraft or helicopter, are an exciting way to see the active volcano White Island.

    The town has a museum, art & craft galleries, shops and restaurants that can fill a rainy day

    Golfing is very popular in Whakatane. There are two in the immediate area and another three courses south along the Bay.

    Thornton Beach

    Enjoying the spectacular panoramic sea views and known for its great catch, Thornton Beach is a fisherman’s haven. Land based anglers can fish towards Whale Island from the beach with a long rod. The Rangitaiki River also provides many great fishing spots and if you go out boating, you won’t be disappointed either!

    Thornton Beach is lovely and quiet. But besides peace, tranquillity, safe swimming and great fishing, there are many more activities and attractions in the area, and Thornton Beach Holiday Park is a great destination for a fantastic New Zealand beach holiday with heaps of fun for the whole family, offering campsites and various types of accommodation to suit all needs and budgets.

    Transport around Whakatane

    Regular coach services connect with all main centres and around the Bay of Plenty.

    Whakatane airport has regular connections to Auckland and Wellington.

    Mountain bikes can be hired for transport around the town or having fun on mountain bike trails. Horse trekking and motorcycle tours are alternative ways to get around.

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    Whakatane/ White Island