Discover Ohiwa Harbour, the jewel of the Bay of Plenty

Ohiwa Harbour is a large, shallow estuary, just ten minutes past Whakatane. Home to a plethora of birds, fish and native vegetation, the harbour is a popular spot for holiday makers and locals.

With plenty of water sports available like fishing and boating, and amazing walking trails through native bush, the estuary is known as the Jewel of the Bay of Plenty.

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Ohiwa harbour’s attractions

This largely unspoilt area has been an attraction for many years and for many reasons.

Its natural beauty draws sightseers, the impressive variety of wildlife attracts nature lovers, and its clean water and fresh air entices anyone wanting to simply relax and forget life’s troubles.

The estuary contains ten small islands, with many sandbanks which shift with the coming and going of the tides.

The harbour is sheltered to the north by Ohope spit, which protects the estuary from the often turbulent Pacific Ocean.

The harbour is the perfect place for anything to do with the water; boating, swimming, paddleboarding, skiing, wind surfing, charter boat hire, kyacking, bird watching and fishing are all popular pastimes here and the locals are often treated with regular visits from pods of orca throughout the year.

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Cultural history of Ohiwa Harbour

Ohiwa harbour has long been a major food resource for local iwi, with the earliest names of the harbour reflecting this.  ‘Te Kete Kai a Tairongo’ means “the food basket of Tairongo”, and ‘Te Umu Taonoa a Tairongo’ translates to “the place where Tairongo found an abundance of food ready to eat”.

This is still true today, with fish and shellfish available in abundance, and many people in the area still catching food to feed their families.  

People have lived in the area for hundreds of years, evidenced by the large concentration of archaeological sites in and around the harbour.

For local Maori, the Ohiwa harbour area is an important part of their culture, history and life, and should be cared for and preserved for future generations.

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What to do in Ohiwa Harbour


The Ohiwa harbour is one of the best places in New Zealand for Kayaking. With calm, shallow waters, it’s perfect for families to enjoy a day on the water in safety and comfort.

The estuary contains over 2,000 hectares of inlets, islands, sandbars and mangroves to explore, with many people coming here every year specifically for this remarkable experience.

Boating and fishing

The harbour has a boat ramp which is easily accessible in all tides, and quite often boats will fish the Kutarere channel and main channel coming back with a successful day’s catch.  The boat ramp launches into the Kutarere channel from the Ohiwa harbour, and you can head out over the bar to the Pacific ocean.

Spend the day water-skiing in the designated lanes, or throw a few lines over the side and catch tonight’s dinner!

If you’re not lucky enough to have your own boat, then never fear, charters can be arranged in Ohope, Opotiki, or Whakatane.

Horse Riding

It’s not just the water sports that attract tourists to the area! Horse riding treks are the best way to enjoy the stunning natural landscape including rolling hills and natural sand dunes.  Visit the Ohiwa Horse Treks Page to find out more about their horse riding options around the edge and hill country of the Ohiwa harbour.

Walking tracks

There are plenty of non-aquatic ways to spend your day, with a number of scenic walking tracks in the area. These easy tracks all have stunning views of the ocean, while passing through some beautiful native bush.

Ohiwa Glow Worms

Right next door to the Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park is a magical night-time walk for all the family. The Ohiwa glow worms are only ten minutes away from us, and this beautiful bushwalk will allow you to take in the sights and sounds of the forest before discovering the glow worm grotto.

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Enjoy Ohiwa Harbour with us

No matter what type of holiday you’re after, the Ohiwa Harbour has it all.

With some of New Zealand’s best water activities right on our doorstep, you can be sure not to miss out on any adventures! Whether it’s water-skiing, paddle boarding, swimming, snorkelling or  kayaking… a day of fun is guaranteed.

Or if you’d rather let others get active while you relax with a book and a glass of wine, we’ve got you covered there too.

Beautiful ocean views, native bush, singing birds… it’s the perfect way to relax and unwind.

The important thing is, this is your holiday – you enjoy it the way you want to.

We’re just here to enchance the experience.

Contact us today if you have any questions about the Ohiwa Harbour, or Book Online now to secure your place in one of New Zealand’s most beautiful holiday spots.

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