Whakatane to Te Puia Springs

Begin in Whakatane

Whakatane is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand, making it an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Visitors here can enjoy everything from fishing trips to volcano visits. This sunny little enclave has it all and makes for a picture-perfect getaway in the outdoors.

Whakatane is situated in the main centre of the eastern Bay of Plenty. The area is well known for its fishing – with more yellow fin tuna caught here than anywhere else in New Zealand. If you’re interested in casting a line, fishing trips can be organised very easily with one of the many local tour operators. They’re a great way to spend an afternoon.

If fishing isn’t your thing, there’s also the opportunity to take dolphin watching and seal spotting tours, both of which often include swimming. Please be advised that tours only operate during the warmer months, beginning in November.

Sunshine and Chardonnay

From Whakatane, jump in your rental car and head for Gisborne, a small city, famous for its surf beaches and the extraordinary chardonnay that the region produces. You could easily spend a day or two here getting swept up in the surf, or the chardonnay, if that’s more your thing. It’s a place with a naturally sunny disposition – and one that aso rather proudly claims to be the first city on Earth to see the sun rise each day. All that sunshine and chardonnay makes for a hell of a time.

One of the highlights of Gisborne’s cultural calendar takes place over New Year’s Eve. Rhythm & Vine is an annual music festival held at Waiohika Estate vineyard, several kilometres outside the city of Gisborne. Founded in 2003, the festival started small but has since gone from strength to strength, winning awards and attracting major international acts. Get yourself a ticket and enjoy excellent live music and some of New Zealand’s most extraordinary wine.

Tolaga Bay

Once you’ve recovered from the excess sunshine and wine in Gisborne, take the 45 minute drive north to Tolaga Bay, a charming little town with an iconic wharf that stretches far out into the ocean. At a length of 600 metres, the wharf is New Zealand’s longest and takes about half an hour to walk to the end and back. It’s also the perfect place to cast a line in and watch the world go by while you wait for something to bite.

The wharf is a piece of local history. After construction was completed in 1929, it made it possible for large cargo ships to dock in the waters of Tolaga Bay and offload materials that were used to build infrastructure in the area. The great irony is, not long after the wharf was built, enough road building materials were brought ashore that soon enough the wharf was no longer needed.

Te Puia Springs

From beautiful Tolaga Bay, head north to Te Puia Springs, a very small town where the main attraction is the local hot springs that are heated by natural thermal activity in the area. The region is largely undeveloped, which means that there is plenty of bushland and native wildlife to be seen. After a road trip or long day exploring, there’s nothing better than a soak in a hot pool with a cold beverage in hand. It’s the perfect way to relax and unwind after an epic New Zealand adventure.