Greig Dean runs the Port Ōhope General Store and shares his insider tips for what to do at Ohope Beach.
Head to the harbour end of Ōhope where you can sit outside the Port Ōhope General Store with a beer, a coffee or an ice cream and gaze out over the ever-changing Ohiwa Harbour, at the same time as catching a glimpse of the kite surfers on the ocean side. I highly recommend the pan-fried scallops with bacon and kumara – followed by a hot cookie sundae.
It's like having your own private beach. Penguins can sometimes be found there and the walk is Goldilocks (not too hard, not too easy: just right). It doesn't matter what time of year you do this, or what time of day. No two days are the same.
Go to the west end of Ōhope Beach and take a 20-minute walk over the headland to Otarawairere. There are magnificent views on the way, and a secluded, shelly beach at the end. Walk or run some of the 11km of white sand of Ohope Beach.
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Ōhope has been voted New Zealand's most loved beach and has an excess of 2250 hours of sunshine per year, with a population of just over 3000 people, the majority of whom have at least one dubious "the one that got away" fishing story.
I can't go past Ohiwa Harbour, particularly at sunset, preferably with good food, drink and company. For a more "active" view, drive over the hill heading out of Ōhope on the way to Whakatane and take a right for the Kohi Point Lookout, which is spectacular (and keep an eye out for dolphins). And of course, you can't go past the magnificent and formidable Whakaari / White Island, which can be viewed most days from any point on Ōhope Beach.
At the West End of Ōhope Beach, when the tide is out, there is a series of small caverns – not quite caves – that have been carved out of the rock by the water. The perfect place for mermaids to rest when the tide is in, or so my niece believed when she was little. It's a beautiful place to explore.
A place with plenty of sunshine - a microclimate of sorts - pōhutukawa trees blooming in the summer, a seemingly endless stretch of golden sand, clear Pacific surf crashing on the shore, rock pools to explore, a wide choice of cafes and restaurants, populated with kind, friendly locals. And why wouldn't they be? They live in Ōhope.
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