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Your guide to Ōpōtiki
All About Ōpōtiki
Framed by two rivers on three sides as they converge into the Pacific Ocean, the small coastal town of Ōpōtiki is on the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s North Island. The town is known as the Gateway to the East Cape and is one of the earliest Māori settlements in the country. Carved wooden pouwhenua posts welcome visitors to the town and the beach, showing the importance Ōpōtiki has in Māori history.
The main street in the town center is lined with architecture from the early 20th century, including its Art Deco community movie theater from 1926, as well as colorful murals from local artists. A footbridge leads from the town onto the beach, where you can surf or spend time sunbathing.
The rivers of Waioeka and Otara meet at Ōpōtiki Wharf, which has rope swings and a slide and is a prime spot for swimming and fishing. Ōpōtiki is surrounded by natural beauty, including the Hukutaia Domain nature reserve and Raukumara Conservation Park, which are easily explored through the cycle trails through the dunes that head along the coastline.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Ōpōtiki
Ōpōtiki sits on the Bay of Plenty, which is known for its outdoor activities that bring numerous visitors in spring and summer (October to March), when temperatures are at their highest. From the second half of December until the end of February, Ōpōtiki holds its summer festival, with a Christmas parade, fishing tournament, and the Ōpōtiki Lantern Festival with live music, food stalls, and all-ages entertainment. If you arrive in Ōpōtiki in the fall (March to June) and winter (June to September), temperatures are much cooler, but there are many cloudless days perfect for hiking.
Top things to do in Ōpōtiki
Ōpōtiki Heritage and Agricultural Museum
Housed in the former Road Services Depot in the heart of town, the Ōpōtiki Heritage and Agricultural Museum gives you a deeper understanding of the history of Ōpōtiki and the local area. It features 12 themed rooms across three floors that tell the stories of Māori settlers and the shipping industry, with many artifacts and ephemera on display, including agricultural equipment, a complete barber shop, and a 1950s general store.
Starting from the Memorial Park Reserve, head out on your bike or on foot across the Pakowhai ki Otutaopuku Bridge along the gravel path of the Dunes Trail. The full trail is over six miles long, taking you as far as the Tirohanga Conservation Reserve. Follow the coastal path through the sand dunes and along the Pacific Coast, with plenty of places to stop for a picnic, including Hukuwai Beach.
Hukutaia Domain Reserve
Take a five-mile journey south of town to walk around the Hukutaia Domain, a 11-acre forest reserve. The 20-minute trail will lead you through a multitude of native flora to one of the most sacred trees in the area: Taketakerau, or the Millennium Tree, is more than 2,000 years old. The site of this hollow, 75-foot-tall puriri tree was once a burial place for a local tribe.