Where Spec­tac­u­lar is Par for the Course

IF YOU HAVEN’T YET EX­PE­RI­ENCED THE SENSE OF JOY WHEN YOU CATCH YOUR FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE SEA AS YOU DRIVE DOWN THE HILL FROM WHAKATĀNE TO­WARDS ŌHOPE BEACH, THEN IT’S TIME YOU GOT A MOVE ON. AL­WAYS A HOL­I­DAY HOT SPOT, WHAKATĀNE HAS COME OF AGE IN RE­CENT YE

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - FEATURE - WORDS ANNA WIL­LIAMS

Whakatāne’s sun

filled golf cour­ses of­fer crisp, dry greens year­round, cou­pled with some pretty spec­tac­u­lar scenery. A range of both in­ter­na­tional-level coastal cour­ses and pic­turesque coun­try clubs of­fer the chance to ex­plore the di­verse scenery of the district.

SPOILT FOR CHOICE

The east­ern bay of plenty is host to six golf cour­ses, all within easy driv­ing dis­tance from Whakatāne or Ōhope.

Set be­tween Ohiwa Har­bour and Ōhope Beach, with views out to White Is­land on the north­ern side and the har­bour wet­lands to the south, the Ōhope In­ter­na­tional Golf Club is rated one of the top links cour­ses in New Zealand.

With sandy soils and more sun­shine than any other North Is­land re­gion, the 18-hole course is dry un­der­foot year-round, of­fer­ing con­sis­tent play­ing con­di­tions.

Greg Turner says this of the course, “The sea­side ter­rain is as dra­matic as any­thing in the Bri­tish Isles and the views are ex­cep­tional. This is links golf to match the very best any­where.”

10 min­utes from town, the Whakatāne Golf Club cham­pi­onship level course of­fers an­other spec­tac­u­larly scenic game. With fast run­ning greens and lush for­giv­ing fair­ways, the course pro­vides play­ers of all lev­els a chal­leng­ing and re­ward­ing 18 holes.

If you’re af­ter a road trip as well as some great golf, the Ōpōtiki Golf Club course is worth the trip. This pic­turesque 18-hole course is sit­u­ated on gently rolling hill­side over­look­ing the coast­line and Opotiki town­ship, of­fer­ing pres­sure-free golf with tree-lined, un­du­lat­ing fair­ways.

For a more laid-back round, the Te Teko, Kaw­erau and Mu­ru­para cour­ses al­low for a re­lax­ing game for any­one who pops in.

For more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about the cour­ses and to book a round, visit whakatane.com/golf.

SPEC­TAC­U­LAR LAND­SCAPES

The Whakatāne district is renowned for its su­perb walk­ing, tramp­ing and bik­ing trails, both coastal with in­cred­i­ble ocean vis­tas, and awe- in­spir­ing tracks through an­cient na­tive forests.

Nga Ta­puwae o Toi (Foot­prints of Toi) walk­way, con­nect­ing Whakatāne town­ship and Ōhope Beach, of­fers a di­verse nat­u­ral land­scape and spec­tac­u­lar scenery to ri­val any of New Zealand’s great walks. The 16 kilo­me­tre loop is achiev­able as a half-day walk, or en­joy in sec­tions suit­able for the whole fam­ily. The trail in­cludes pa sites of ma­jor his­toric sig­nif­i­cance, di­verse na­tive for­est, spec­tac­u­lar po­hutukawa stands, un­sur­passed coastal views, seabird colonies and na­tive birds in abun­dance - in­clud­ing over 300 wild kiwi.

The trail passes through Ōtarawairere Bay - the hid­den jewel of the Whakatāne-Ōhope area. Po­hutukawa trees loom over a sandy beach of crushed seashells, and the warm wa­ters of the Pa­cific lap qui­etly against the shore.

KG Kayaks of­fer guided tours fol­low­ing the coastal sec­tion of Ngā Ta­puwae o Toi. De­part­ing from the Whakatāne Heads or West End at Ōhope Beach, take in the spec­tac­u­lar scenery and stop for morn­ing tea in one of the se­cluded bays.

If you choose to walk the trail by foot, Whakatane and Ōhope’s best cafes are just a short stroll from two of the trail’s en­try points. A re­turn bus ser­vice be­tween Whakatāne and Ohope is avail­able for those wish­ing to walk one-way.

Whakatane has some bril­liant bike trails, with some­thing for ev­ery skill level, rang­ing from an easy fam­ily cruise to ad­ven­tur­ous moun­tain bik­ing.

Take the fam­ily to Onepu Moun­tain Bike Park, Burma Road, Ōhope Har­bour­side Trail or the Mōtū Dunes Trail in Ōpōtiki for re­lax­ing rides. Or me­an­der on the Whakatāne River War­ren Cole cy­cle­way, a flat, paved ride that skirts the town.

A 1.5-hour drive (about 90 kilo­me­tres) from Whakatāne leads you to the un­touched nat­u­ral won­der­land Whiri­naki te Puaa-Tāne Con­ser­va­tion Park - an out­door play­ground for all. Of­fer­ing ex­pe­ri­ences for the ul­ti­mate ad­ven­turer or a day of ex­plor­ing with the fam­ily. The Whiri­naki Te Pua-aTāne moun­tain bike trail is per­fect for be­gin­ner and in­ter­me­di­ate moun­tain bik­ers, with a 16 kilo­me­tre (2-4 hour) loop. For the more ex­pe­ri­enced, the Mo­erangi trail is con­sid­ered a ‘must do’ among bik­ing en­thu­si­asts, climb­ing 1000 me­tres and of­fer­ing sen­sa­tional re­wards.

Take a stroll on one of the many short walk trails or choose to ex­tend your jour­ney on one of the multi-day trails, ac­com­mo­dated by a num­ber of huts and camp­ing sites.

Stand­ing amongst the great forests of the world, Whiri­naki te Pua-a-Tāne is a site of sig­nif­i­cant un­spoiled na­ture, with 155km of walk­ing, tramp­ing and moun­tain bike tracks, 51 en­dan­gered species and 1000-year-old trees. Im­merse your­self amongst an­cient kahikatea, to­tara, matai, rimu, miro and tawa trees or spot the en­dan­gered Whio (Blue Duck), one of the many rare birds who call Whiri­naki home.

Fly-fish­ing en­thu­si­asts are also re­warded with some of the clear­est fast-flow­ing rivers in New Zealand.

Whakatāne is rated as one of New Zealand's best all-round fish­ing des­ti­na­tions. From De­cem­ber through late April, catch yel­low fin, skip­jack, al­ba­core tuna, shark and mar­lin. Year-round fish in­clude snap­per, king­fish and many more. Bring your own to boat, or take one of the many day char­ters on of­fer.

And, just 50 km off­shore from Whakatāne, no visit to the Bay of Plenty is com­plete with­out a trip to White Is­land. Known to Māori as Whakaari, White Is­land is ar­guably the world’s most ac­ces­si­ble ac­tive ma­rine vol­cano. If time al­lows, pay a visit to Mouto­horā (Whale) Is­land wildlife sanc­tu­ary, where you’ll be sur­rounded by sad­dle­back, kākāriki (NZ para­keet), lit­tle brown kiwi, tu­atara and fur seals.

East­ern bay of plenty lo­cals will tell you they have the ul­ti­mate life­style. With an en­vi­ous cli­mate, supreme nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and a myr­iad of ac­tiv­i­ties on of­fer, we think they might be quite right.

↑ Set be­tween Ohiwa Har­bour and Ōhope Beach, with views out to White Is­land on the north­ern side and the har­bour wet­lands to the south, the Ōhope In­ter­na­tional Golf Club is rated one of the top links cour­ses in New Zealand.

↓ Whakatane has some bril­liant bike trails, with some­thing for ev­ery skill level, rang­ing from an easy fam­ily cruise to ad­ven­tur­ous moun­tain bik­ing.

↙ Nga Ta­puwae o Toi (Foot­prints of Toi) walk­way, con­nect­ing Whakatāne town­ship and Ōhope Beach,

↑ From De­cem­ber through late April, catch yel­low fin, skip­jack, al­ba­core tuna, shark and mar­lin.

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