Hidden Gems New Zealand - Ohiwa Harbour & Whirinaki Forest

A year ago I returned to the USA after a 3-month stay in New Zealand. I look forward to sharing with you some of the hidden gems I discovered during my visit. In this blog, I feature the remote and beautiful Ohiwa Harbour, situated on the east coast of the North Island. We also visit the nearby Whirinaki Loop Walk, one of New Zealand's best one day walks.

Ohiwa Harbour


Ohiwa Harbour, is a natural inlet on the Bay of Plenty coast. It’s a unique natural environment with a fascinating history of both Māori and European settlement and activity.


A favorite activity is a two and a half hour guided kayak tour (double and single kayaks are available) that offers an insight into this beautiful harbor and its many islands. 

Its an ideal place for those new to kayaking or for families with young children with opportunities to view wildlife in close proximity. 


An Orca Whale with a young calf, investigates Ohiwa Harbour

The harbor is home to a large variety of rays and fish with Orca (also called "Killer Whales) visiting the harbor several times a year (despite their massive size and fearsome name, there has never been a recorded instances of Orca attacks on humans anywhere in the world). 

Ohiwa’s abundant bird life also attracts visitors from all over the world and is home to many species including kingfishers, godwits and herons.

This video (thanks to Nathan Pettigrew) was taken on the same stretch of New Zealand coastline, at Mount Maunganui. It shows some of the wildlife that's also encountered at Ohiwa Harbour.

The Bay of Plenty Region

Ohiwa Harbour is part of a region, named in 1769 by explorer Captain Cook as The Bay of Plenty. There are many other attractions to explore and enjoy in The Bay of Plenty region, like The Whirinaki Loop Walk. 


The Whirnaki Loop Walk

The Whirinaki Loop Walk, without doubt one of the finest natural forest walks in New Zealand. 

It takes less than an hour to get there by car from Ohiwa Harbour (also accessible from Rotorua to the north). 


The Whirinaki Falls

It's an easy loop trail, following the Whirinaki River and takes around 3-hours to complete. A highlight is the turnaround point, the Whirinaki Waterfalls.


The magnificent forests of the Whirinaki Loop Trail

On the way, you'll pass through superb podocarp forest with many excellent vantage points for viewing the river. The track includes the magnificent 'dinosaur forest', dominated by towering examples of New Zealand indigenous trees like the kahikatea, tōtara, matai, rimu, miro and tawa.

I've visited the Whirinaki forests several times and it amazes me that its profile with international visitors is so low. 

There are many more outstanding features of this region called Bay of Plenty and according to your particular interests we can tailor-make a visit just for you.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Jan 14, 2022