Hidden Gems New Zealand

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. This weeek I'll feature the beautiful Ohiwa Harbour, situated on the east coast of the North Island and the nearby Whirinaki Loop Walk, one of New Zealand's best one day walks.

Ohiwa Harbour

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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.

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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. 

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An Orca Whale with 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 the fearsome name there are no recorded instances of Killer Whale attacks on humans. 

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

As the harbor water can be a couple of degrees warmer than the ocean, a swim at a secluded beach is always tempting during this tour.

The Bay of Plenty Region

In this region there are many other attractions to explore and enjoy. 

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The Whirnaki Loop Walk

One of our favorite examples is 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 (or depending on your final routing, it's also accessible from Rotorua to the north). 

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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.

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Whirinaki Forests

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. That can't last much longer. 

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 • Dec 14, 2021