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Exploring New Zealand

Opotiki Area Guide

Carved Opotiki tower.
The small town of Opotiki, 60 kilometres east of Whakatane, is the last outpost of the Bay of Plenty before the beautiful wilds of Eastland.

The town is on a harbour inlet, bounded by the Waioeka and Otara rivers, and stands at a fork in the road, the state highways heading east and south east to Gisborne - highway 35 winding its way around the spectacular East Cape coastline, and highway 2 cutting inland through the Waioeka Gorge.

Opotiki has a strong history of Maori settlement, and carvings made by local artists line the main street. The Opotiki Heritage and Agricultural Society Museum on Church Street is housed in the old stables once used by stagecoaches heading to Whakatane. Opposite lies the plain white wooden Hiona St Stephen's Church where missionary Carl Volkner was killed in 1865, local Maori believing he was a government spy. Inside the church there are beautiful woven flax tukutuku and painted kowhaiwhai wooden panels, and Volkner's grave.

Seven kilometres south of the town centre is the Hukutaia Domain, with one of the country's best collections of native trees, shrubs, ferns and grasses. In the centre of the domain is a 23-metre hollow Puriri tree, known as Taketakerau, used by Maori as a burial tree and estimated to be more than 2,000 years old. The domain also has a good lookout over the Waioeka Valley and interesting short walking tracks through the trees.

Outside the town, there are kayak trips on the Waioeka River, and wild backcountry rafting and scenic jetboating on the Motu River.

Just west of Opotiki are the beaches of Ohiwa and Waiotahi, both good for fishing and swimming.