Whakatane is a buzzing little town of 19,600 on the eastern side of the Bay of Plenty. It’s a sunny place with a busy stretch of shops, bars and restaurants in the town centre. But its main draw for travellers is its proximity to White Island, New Zealand’s only live marine volcano, 50km away. Tours depart from Whakatane by helicopter or launch and sometimes include dolphin or whale encounters.
Other popular activities include swimming with dolphins and jet boating on the Matahina Dam and the Rangitaiki River. Whakatane is also one of the best all-around fishing destinations in New Zealand and is considered NZ’s yellowfin capital.