Key Points:

Where

: Whakatane sits in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, 316km southeast of Auckland, or 112km down the east coast from Tauranga. It's about a four-hour drive from Auckland.

What to do:

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Whakatane is a gateway to the stunning coastline that runs from southern Bay of Plenty along to East Cape, through beach towns such as Ohope and Opotiki to lesser-known spots such as Matata, home to eco tours of its wetlands and geothermal spots.

Whakatane is also the best departure point for visits to White Island, located just 48km offshore, and one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes. Whether you're wanting to visit by boat or helicopter, there are several tour operators running trips out the island.

If tramping is your cup of tea, there are many spots around Whakatane that offer walks of differing difficulties. For a great overview of the area try Nga Tapuwae o Toi Walkways which includes pa sites, native forest, pohutukawa stands, gorgeous coastal views, seabird colonies and forest birds. The round trip is 16km - or five to seven hours - but can also be done in sections.

There are two good craft markets in the region - the Ohope Craft Market, held on the first Saturday of every month, and the Peace Park Market, held on the last Thursday every month.

And if you're wanting a mid-winter warm-up, Awakeri Hot Springs is just a 10-minute drive out of town.

What's on

: September 5-7: Silent Film Festival,

September 26-28: Eastcape Enduro ChallengeLink

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October 11: BayTrust Motu Challenge Link:

www.whakatane.com