Whakatane is a city of eternal sunshine, but many would say the warm months of December, January and February are when to visit. This peak travel season brings plenty of tourists to the area’s beaches, though, and hotel rates and airfare are often at their highest. Conversely, the coldest months of July and August can offer some of the cheapest airfare. Shoulder season months of September, October, April and May can be both affordable and enjoyable.
Set against the brilliant sparkle of the Pacific Ocean, Whakatane stands on the Eastern Bay of Plenty of New Zealand. Incredible beaches, deep-sea fishing, water sports and luxury golf courses wait to greet outdoor-loving visitors. Whakatane is also the gateway to White Island, where truly adventurous travellers can come face to face with an active volcano. And for the lovers of marine life, the local dolphins and whales offer plenty of viewing opportunities during a stay in Whakatane.
Sometimes it seems there is so much to do in Whakatane, in fact, that the biggest dilemma facing the average traveller is what to choose.
Many opt for the golden sands and warm waters of Whakatane’s local beaches, and it’s easy to see why. Family-friendly, scenic and serene, Whakatane’s shores are meant for relaxation. Those who need an adrenaline fix, though, can hop on a mountain bike and explore the more rugged side of Whakatane. Alternatively, tourists can immerse themselves in the local natural beauty with a walk along Nga Tapuwae o Toi Walkways, which runs through the town, beaches and reserves that surround Whakatane.
It’s never hard to find good food in Whakatane, especially when it comes to chowing down on the local seafood. An obvious choice for the most popular fare in the city, seafood simply doesn’t get any fresher than this.
Whakatane offers public transportation but travellers should keep in mind that it is very limited. Still, tourists can travel to some of the area’s major destinations by public transportation. Hiring a car is a much more convenient option when visiting Whakatane. In fact, many visitors prefer to join a tour group, which typically uses a private bus for transportation, and combine the experience with a hire car when exploring the city.
The city has its own small airport, Whakatane Airport (WHK), about 9km from the heart of the city. Although not an international airport, there are direct flights from Auckland and Wellington. Hire cars are available at the airport, as are shuttle services, but no public transport serves the area. Visitors will need to arrange for private transportation into the city.