Discover why Otarawairere Bay at Ohope Beach is one of my favourite playgrounds!

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In New Zealand, as the island nation that we are, we’re definitely spoilt for beautiful coastlines. Having recently moved back to Whakatane, I decided to check out one of my favourite ‘local tourist’ spots. Otarawairere Bay is a hidden gem just a 15-minute walk from its more famous cousin, Ohope Beach. The bay is easiest to access at the west end of Ohope Beach, and I recommend going at low tide so you can walk the entire length and explore the rocks. Otarawairere Bay is a hidden gem and just a 15-minute walk from its more famous cousin,
Ohope Beach. The bay is easiest to access at the west end of Ohope Beach, and I recommend going at low tide so you can walk the length of the bay and explore the rocks.

At low tide at West End in Ohope Beach you can also walk along the rocks to get to Otarawairere Bay.

At low tide at West End in Ohope Beach you can also walk along the rocks to get to Otarawairere Bay.

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How to get to Ohope Beach

From Whakatane, drive up Gorge Rd (turns to Ohope Rd) and that basically takes you to the main shops and cafes - West End is a left turn as you come down the hill (then keep driving until you get to the car park). Don’t have a car? Great news! There’s also a footpath that goes the length of Gorge Rd from Whakatane to Ohope Beach (bikes can also use this). On the way to Ohope Beach, you should also check out Kohi Point to get great views of Whakatane and the Pacific Ocean. If you’re on the waewae express (on foot), Kohi Point is best accessed at the Nga Tapuwae o Toi’s track at Seaview Rd in Whakatane.

How good is this view? This is the first viewpoint along the track, and if you need a breather there’s a bench at the top of the stairs.

How good is this view? This is the first viewpoint along the track, and if you need a breather there’s a bench at the top of the stairs.

West End at Ohope Beach to Otarawairere Bay

The start of the stairs that takes you over the hill to Otarawairere Bay is easy to spot - there’s a sign to the left of the wooden stairs. The track is well maintained and the walk itself is a leisurely 15 minutes with plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

My favourite viewpoint is the second of two wooden benches, about halfway along the track.
It gives you your first glimpse of Otarawairere Bay and even though I’ve seen it a gazillion times before, it still takes my breath away. Cheesy I know, but the turquoise ocean is simply stunning.
I usually like to sit here awhile and really soak up the scenery or listen to the birds. The beach is literally just five minutes away, but I’m never really in a hurry when I come here so I chill awhile.

An interesting feature I love to take pictures of is the limestone wall - which has these incredible mustard coloured layers. The peculiar shape is from natural erosion and a few carved names of past visitors, though I’ve yet to find the name of someone I knew! There’s also a nice view of the bay from here, but sometimes it can obscured by tree branches. As I was taking this photo (tripods and self-timers are a must on my solo adventures), I ran into an old friend from Toastmasters so we headed down to the beach together.

I love the colours on this limestone wall.

I love the colours on this limestone wall.

You can walk the length of the beach in less than 30 minutes. At the end of the beach are wooden stairs from the Ngatapuwae o Toi’s track that starts from Whakatane, and if you want to come through this way, make sure to check the tides because conditions on the beach can get pretty rough when the tide is high. Please take this seriously, because every year there’s always someone who has to be rescued by the Coastguard or by helicopter trying to wade through at mid to high tide. If the weather is stunning like it was today you will have a few hours to enjoy this hidden gem, so pack a picnic and bring water…and in the summer, your togs and towel.

Happy exploring!

These rocks disappear with the tide, so it’s nice to explore them when the water’s out.

These rocks disappear with the tide, so it’s nice to explore them when the water’s out.

 

Photographs by Ronna Grace Funtelar | Camera: SonyA6000

 
 

fivefootronna is Ronna Grace Funtelar - a thirtyish adventurer, storyteller and curious optimist. A woman who lives for hiking mountains, outdoor adventures and eating pizza. She has a unique brand of optimism that is a combination of her great enthusiasm for life and cups of coffee during the day.