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Your guide to Whangamatā
All About Whangamatā
Located in the Coromandel region of New Zealand, north of the Bay of Plenty, Whangamatā is a relaxed village amidst an aquatic playground. The small surf town is surrounded by a saltwater estuary, feeding the Otahu river into the South Pacific with two openings at either end of the beach. Whangamatā beach is a 3.5-mile stretch of soft, golden sand with emerald water, popular among surfers and beach dwellers alike. Markers along the sandy shore indicate which dune areas are home to protected dotterel birds. The Whangamatā surf breaks are unbeatable, yet the waters are still safe for swimmers.
Fishing is also a popular pursuit in Whangamatā, and you’ll often see anglers lined up along the seafront or heading out in boats to try their luck with snapper, kahawai, and tarakihi. Local restaurants also celebrate the marine offerings, with fresh seafood regularly gracing the menus. As you head inland, the coastline quickly gives way to rolling hills, dense forest, and bush — all of which are lined with cycle routes and hiking trails.
The Bay of Plenty region is known for its cultural scene, and Whangamatā is no exception. There are galleries showcasing local creations, from sculpture to photography. Meanwhile, weekend beachside markets are an opportunity to sample the local culinary offerings and pick up handmade gifts.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Whangamatā
Whangamatā has numerous outdoor activities available year round. However, many of the local festivals and events take place in the summer months, from November to March. Summers here are pleasant and mild, with enjoyable temperatures never reaching sweltering highs. The Whangamatā Summer Festival is at the end of December, with markets, live music, and family activities. New Year’s Eve is a big deal in Whangamatā, with thousands visiting the town to celebrate, which is good to keep in mind if you’re planning to book your Whangamatā accommodation during this time.
March is the wettest month of the year, but it’s also when you can celebrate all things ‘50s and ‘60s rock and roll at the Whangamatā Beach Hop. Expect classic cars and motorbikes, incredible outfits, trade stalls, and a lot of classic rock.
Winters in Whangamatā, which are from June to August, are wet and cold yet mild, with temperatures never reaching freezing.
Top things to do in Whangamatā
Whenuakura Wildlife Sanctuary
Whenuakura Wildlife Sanctuary, found on Donut Island, is less than a mile from the beach and can be accessed by kayak or boat. Book onto a guided tour to discover the local wildlife, the emerald lagoon, and incredible rocky formations. The island is incredibly sacred to the local people, so be sure to respect its sanctity and experience the island from the water only.
Luck at Last Mine
Outside of Whangamatā, the Luck at Last Mine is a walking trail that offers a glimpse of the region’s former gold mining industry. The Luck at Last Mine dates back to 1897 and has long since been abandoned, and this interesting two-hour walking route takes you along the old carriageway and past some of the mining relics.
The Whangamatā Bar is a permanent sand bar at the mouth of the estuary, which has been drawing surf tourists from around the world since the 1950s. If you’re a newbie to surfing, stick to some of the smaller breaks under guidance from a local surf school. For a more tranquil experience, hire a kayak or paddleboard and head up one of the estuaries.