Ōhope is no longer the best kept secret
New Zealand beachgoers have once again let the whole country in on the secret locals already know, that Ōhope and Ōtarawairere beaches are among the best
The winners of the New Zealand Herald's Best Beach competition were announced on Sunday with the two Eastern Bay beaches scooping up two out of the five categories and coming second in a third.
Ōhope Beach was voted best family beach for the third year and was placed second for best camping beach. Photo: LDR / Beacon
Ōhope Beach was voted best family beach for the third year and was placed second for best camping beach. Ōtarawairere Bay was voted best hidden gem, again, despite the track from West End being inaccessible this summer due to a major slip, leaving Ōtarawairere Village the only access point by foot.
Ōtarawairere Bay Photo: LDR / Beacon
Whakatāne mayor Victor Luca said getting the news that two local beaches had again been voted the best was "an excellent way to start the year".
"This confirms what I'd been telling people when they asked where I was holidaying this summer - my reply was 'I'm going to a wonderful resort, called Whakatāne!'
"I've grown up knowing what a drawcard Ōhope Beach is for family fun and Ōtarawairere truly is a gem. It's great to see that others recognise that too."
Ōhope Beach is tops for family fun, the deputy mayor says. Photo: LDR / Beacon / Louis Klaassen
Deputy mayor Lesley Immink has been campaigning for people to vote in the competition since it started.
"I'm really thrilled that so many people from our community and visitors who love Ōhope have voted. I know the visitors who come to Ōhope Beach every year, whether they're from Hamilton or Wellington, they literally do say, 'there's no better place in New Zealand for good, safe swimming and surfing'."
She said, from a marketing point of view, it was great for the area to be able to put that on social and in print media.
"Best beach three years in a row - that's got to mean something."
She said the council's Wharfside pop-up activity hub at the Ōhope Wharf, now in its third year, was proving a popular attraction.
"I've been down there several times this summer and it's just great."
Councillor Andrew Iles, who heads the Keep Whakatāne Beautiful committee said it was great to see that a district like Whakatāne was getting national recognition.
"It's not just the supreme award winner of best large town but to be again acknowledged as best family beach and best hidden gem shows we really pitch above our weight, which was also acknowledged when that boutique cruise company came here recently."
Ōtarawairere Bay Photo: LDR / Beacon
Ōhope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park manager Cormac O'Keefe said the news that the beach had taken second place as New Zealand's best camping beach just topped off what had been an amazing summer.
While there is a freedom camping area on the Ōhiwa side of Harbour Road and the Christian camp on Pohutukawa Avenue, the Top 10 would cater to the majority of campers in Ōhope.
"During our peak, over New Year's, we'd have over 2200 people here at any one time. We've had a really good summer. People seem to be going home happy, which is great," he said.
"You meet people who have been coming here year after year for the past 60 years. They were coming as kids and now they're bringing their grandkids here."
He said the national recognition was "just brilliant for the whole area".
"Hopefully more tourists come through now because of it."
The West End of Ōhope was also one of 10 beaches nominated as best surf beach but was not placed. The fifth category was best city beach, which was not applicable to Eastern Bay.
LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.