Otarawaiwere Bay nestles between Whakatane and Ohope Beach, hidden beneath the dramatic cliffs on either side. Because it is tucked away, Otarawaiwere Bay tends to be quieter than the more popular Ohope Beach, making it the ideal beach day out. If you are anything like me and prefer to avoid crowds, it is anyway.
Time 15 minutes down and 20 back up again will see you right.
Difficulty This isn’t a difficult track, it is well maintained and easy to follow.
Access Head on over to Ohope, but before you get there, turn down Otarawaiwere Road and carry on until you hit the dead end, park up and follow the signs down to the beach.
Fitness It is all downhill down to the bay and all uphill back up to the car again. In saying that, I’ve been taking my kids down the track since they were wee tots and they both have always walked it themselves.
Down the track
The track down to Otarawaiwere Bay is well maintained, wide and easy to follow. It is pretty much entirely downhill all the way to the beach.
There are a few gauges in the track due to consistent water running down the path but it is easy enough to teeter along the edge. Turn it into a balancing game for younger children. My 10 year old was not impressed as she was clinging to her whiteboard (don’t ask) the entire way down and was so engrossed in it that she wasn’t watching where she was going. She found the mini trenches. We all heard about it.
In around 15 or so minutes the bay comes to sight as you round a corner. Azure blue stretching as far as the eye can see with a white seashell beach looks stunningly picturesque against the backdrop of cliffs and twisted trees exposed to the harsh elements.
An arvo at the beach
A few (around 27, not counting) rounds of hangman and tic tac toe on the whiteboard were played (Amelia’s plan was finally revealed) before moving on to explore the rock pools.
It is best to time your afternoon at Otarawaiwere Beach during low tide. High tide covers the beach almost completely and makes the rock pools unpassable and let’s face it, rock pools are pretty choice to explore.
The horseshoe bay is perfect exploring grounds. Collect unusual seashells, find little creatures in the rock pools and venture into the wee caves. By wee I mean they are pretty much just little crevices in the cliffs, but still good value nonetheless.
Local Tip: Start from Whakatane and hike around the coastline along Nga Tapuwae o Toi, The Footsteps of Toi walkway and you end up in Otarawaiwere Bay. Carry on through the bay to Ohope and follow the loop or hitch a ride back to Whakatane. You need to time your hike with the tides though so you can pass the beach. We just did to Kohi Point and back again, this is still a great walk though.
Back up again
Back up the track was slightly more painful. More due to the ‘muuum, there are too many hills’ than the actual hill. It takes a little longer than coming down but not horrendously so. Soon enough you’ll find yourself back at the short set of steps then into the village once more.
This time, Amelia was more aware of the uneven surface and watched where she was walking which was nice.
While you are in the area
Pop on over to Kaputerangi pa and check out the views of Whakatane and beyond while you are there. It’s on the way (or the way back, depending on which way you are going). Just take the turnoff before Otarawaiwere Village and carry on until you get to the lookout.
Local Tip: Grab some fish and chips and head up to Kohi Point at dusk. It’s absolute mint sitting on an old blanket, watching the rabbits dart beneath the bushes as the sun goes down over the ocean. The view of the night sky is smashing.
Read More: Other choice historical and cultural places to visit in Whakatane
Otarawaiwere Bay is one of the Bay of Plenty’s best-hidden gems (almost wrote jems). It is a great family trek, not too long for little legs and the reward is a sensational beach that you are most likely going to have all to yourself. What could be better? Nothing I tells ya!
Other family-friendly hikes
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