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Whakatane  Pop 18.500

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Whakatane, is a small city on the beginning (or the end depending where you are travelling from) of the Bay of Plenty. It is not the most beautiful place in New Zealand, but for sure is peaceful and has its charm. The city is well planed, clean and tidy and has good size commerce, shopping, restaurants, cafes and all the infra structure a tourist can demand. Near the centre, nice beaches are an invitation for a surf session, for a dip in its waters, or for beach fishing. To the back of the city, the rural area has plenty of cattle farms and agricultural activities, including Kiwi fruit plantations. Another good reason to visit Whakatane is to pay a visit to the "White Island" an active volcano you can't miss to visit. 

Whakatane don't have tall buildings, having most of its constructions in a 2 or 3 levels range. The city centre also concentrates offices, banks, nice cafes and restaurants. Bu the way, try the local seafood, which is fresh picked from local waters and are as tasty as the seafood dish I had in Nelson. The city was built margin the river that will deliver its waters in the famous (or infamous) Whakatane Bar. During big swells or storms, the narrow and shallow bar can be closed until the situation settles, so, if you are going to do the while Island tour, we strongly advice to call the tour operator the day before to check if the conditions are right or not. Whakatane also is renowned by its Open Ocean Fishing, recognized as one of the best spots in New Zealand.  The reason is that the continental self gets very deep not far from the coast, so, do not expect to fish for sardines, but for big ones such as Yellow Tail Tunas, and even big Marlins. The enchanted tourist can also in these same waters have the opportunity to spot Dolphins, Seals or even an Orca whale. But not only from the Ocean Whakatane lives. There are many attractions and things to do such as river and sea kayaking rides, horse riding, great Golf Courses, trekking, and bush walks. If you like open door activities you will have them all.

Wakatane Beaches are good and clean. Sometimes the river after strong rains turns the ocean water a bit cloudy, but without pollution. For surfers, Ohope Beach (photo) has nice beach breaks and rides to both sides. Ohope beach has also easy accommodations used more during weekends by beach goers. The beach has a nice atmosphere and in my opinion it is a very beautiful beach in New Zealand. At the bar to the left side, surfers during big swells and right conditions can ride a killer break, with a steep drop a large stand up wall that depending on the sand bar will deliver long and radical rides to the right. It is not all the time this wave breaks, but when it breaks it is really a fantastic wave to ride.

At Whakatane Warf is where you catch the tour to the White island. We did this tour 3 times and I can tell you that it was one of the most impressive things I've seen on my life. It really works the bucks to get there and the tour is very well organized and operated. There is not too many place in the world that you will be able to step inside an active volcano without too much climbing or walking. While Island in New Zealand and Yasur Volcano in Vanuatu are two of few volcanos that even people of a certain age with minor physical limitations can do ( I took my 68 years old father there and he loved it - 3 years after the visit he still talks with his friends about the White Island visit. It is so nice, that we decide to write an exclusive page about our visits to the Island.(see link below).

As a final recommendation, there are too many tourist options and activities in the beautiful New Zealand, but sometimes tours operator indicate the traditional spots to their clients. The point is that often they forget to mention Whakatane and the White Island as a possible (and great) option. So, for those who want to see a different part (and way of life) of New Zealand, Whakatane with a visit to the White Island I consider a "must do" to anyone who visits the country. Don't miss it.

The river and the bar  Whakatane Warf

Tourist Attraction in Whakatane

White Island - One of the most fantastic places in New Zealand.

Distances by road :

Whakatane - Opotiki 54 km  45 min.
Whakatane - Tauranga 100 km 1 hour & 20 min
Whakatane - Rotorua  96 km 1 hour & 10 min
Whatatane - Auckland 300 km  4 hour
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