It won’t take long for you to fall in love with Ohope. From the moment you drive over the hill from Whakatane and catch a glimpse of the serene blue ocean, you instantly relax. This small beach resort is home to around 3000 people but thousands more visit this slice of paradise every year to enjoy a weekend getaway or holiday in the sunshine.
Ohope was recently voted New Zealand’s most loved beach in a nationwide AA travel poll.
This area is breathtakingly beautiful and you’ll have a smile on your face from the moment you drive over the hill from Whakatane and see the vast open ocean sparkling before you.
Ohope’s pristine sandy beach stretches for 11km from the Ohiwa Harbour entrance in the east before gently curving around to West End beach at the foot of the Kohi Point headland.
To visit West End beach, turn left when you first arrive at the town’s main street. Straight ahead of you will be Mahy Reserve – a great place for the whole family with a large playground, picnic tables, barbeques, basketball court, mini golf and ice-creams available from the dairy next door.
You can either park here or continue east down Pohutukawa Ave. There are plenty of beach access points all the way along this coastal road. Many of the surrounding homes are available for rent if you fancy spending more than just a day here, or book a spot at the Ohope Top 10 Holiday Park.
At Ohope beach you can walk for miles with just the sound of the ocean surf and seagulls for company. Your footprints disappear with the ebb and flow of each tide, and the wind constantly smooths over the sand so it looks as though there’s not another soul around.
Towering Norfolk Pine trees stand sentry along this beach and nearby homes are well-hidden behind the large dune bank and deep sand drifts.
Moutohora (Whale Island) – so named because it’s shaped like a whale – sits prominently offshore, while the active marine volcano Whakaari (White Island) is just visible on the horizon. The North Island’s East Cape can also be seen off in the distance.
This beach is a great spot for kayaking, wind and kite surfing, stand up paddle boarding and surf casting. The waves are normally gentle here, making it a safe swimming spot for all ages. You can also get quite a way offshore before the water is deep enough to go over your head.
A surf lifesaving club is based at Mahy Reserve and volunteer lifeguards patrol between the flags (which mark the safest swimming spot) during summer weekends.
The weather is usually sunny and warm, although the onshore breeze can be strong at times. Bring an extra layer with you if you’ll be on the beach in the early morning or evening.
Dogs are also allowed off their leashes along Ohope beach, so you’re bound to come across many friendly pooches and their owners enjoying a stroll together.
Gather shells, hunt for pipis in the sand, or build a bonfire on the beach with driftwood as the sun goes down.
Ohope is a magic spot to breathe in the ocean air and appreciate the spectacular view.