PO Kiwi - A unique kiwi spotting experience launched

Whakatāne A Town Of Firsts For Visiting Celeb

New Zealand’s sunshine capital served up a number of firsts for TV3’s The Block NZ winner Ben Crawford who visited over the weekend.


The former Tourism New Zealand campaign manager was guest speaker at Sunday’s official launch of Pō Kiwi, an exciting eco-cultural kiwi spotting experience developed by local Whakatāne tourism operator NATIVConnectioNZ.


Born in the deep south and now living in Auckland, Mr Crawford says his inaugural visit to Whakatāne has also resulted in a number of other firsts for the 31 year old who marketing creative consultant.

“On Saturday, I put down my first real earth-cooked hangi and went to the ECBJJ Victories fight show. That was my first time at a live fight card too. It was a great night.


“We woke up on Sunday, sat on the deck of our beachfront villa and had coffee while watching the plumes pour from the island. Within a couple of hours, we were right there, in the middle of the ocean, standing on a live volcano.


“My first time to White Island was a fantastic experience. The island is amazing, but the marine life we saw on the way out was absolutely incredible too.


NATIVConnectioNZ Managing Director William Stewart said the launch was a great success and, despite not actually being able to get into the bush due to the extreme fire risk, guests were able to get a good feel for the experience.


“Although we couldn’t access the bush, we were able to deliver 70% of the experience and a night time treasure hunt meant that everyone was able to see how effective the night-vision technology is

“There’s not much we can do about the weather but as soon as we get some decent rain and the reserves are open again, we’ll be open for business”


Mr Stewart says bringing a high profile personality Mr Crawford to the region for the launch has already had positive spin offs for the region.


“Ben posted some images from his time in Whakatāne on the ‘Libby & Ben’ Facebook page yesterday and it has already received 7000 impressions. That’s amazing coverage for the region, especially when it comes with an endorsement from someone of Ben’s profile.


“He was raving about the whole visit so we’d like to thank White Island Tours and the Ohope Beach Holiday Park for helping us take such great care of him and Kylie while they were here”


For further information on Pō Kiwi, please visit


For further information, contact:

William Stewart – Mauriora Marketing & PR
Mobile: 021 220 8015

It’s official – Ōhope voted New Zealand’s Best Beach

The anticipation has been building, but now it’s official. Ōhope has been voted New Zealand’s ‘Best Beach’ in a nationwide peoples’ choice poll initiated by the Green party earlier this year. The announcement was made this morning by Green Party member, Gareth Hughes, who visited Ōhope Beach to present the best beach award to Whakatane Mayor, Tony Bonne.

Mayor Bonne says he was very proud to receive the honour on behalf of the District. “We’ve just been crowned the Sunshine Capital of New Zealand and now Ōhope has been voted New Zealand’s best beach - we really do live in paradise.”

Council Promotions Officer Nicola Burgess says that in anticipation of the announcement, the community celebrated with its own version of the Harlem Shake. “It was fantastic to see so many people join in on Thursday and the footage of the festivities is now on our Facebook pages for everyone to see,” she says.”

“The community’s efforts really paid off as the video looks awesome. A huge thank-you and well done to everyone who came and celebrated with us. We’re certainly privileged to be living in such a wonderful place.”
Those keen to see the finished product can visit either of Whakatāne District Council’s Facebook pages ( and

Record entries for art award

Record entries have been received for this year’s Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award for painting and drawing.

The prestigious award has drawn 338 entries from 271 artists from around the country. Award convenor, Arts Whakatane’s Heather Hourigan, says this compares to the previous record of 320 entries in 2012, with strong support coming from Auckland, Christchurch and the Wellington region. Forty-six entries were received from Eastern Bay of Plenty artists.

The entries will all arrive at Te Koputu a te whanga a Toi - the Whakatane Library and Exhibition Centre - during two receiving sessions on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 January, ahead of the selection and judging process the following day. Selected works will be hung next Thursday ready for the gala opening of the 2013 Summer Arts Festival on Friday.

This year’s judge is renowned artist and art historian Melvin (Pat) Day of Wellington, who faces the task of selecting the works that will form the exhibition, and from those, judging the six merit awards, the highly commended and the overall award winning work. The overall award, sponsored by the Molly Morpeth Canaday Trust, is a cash prize of $10,000. The total prize pool is $15,250.

The award winners will be announced at the gala event on Friday evening (January 24). Tickets for the event are available at The Good Life, The Strand Whakatane.

The exhibition is open to the public from 25 January to 31 March. Over the Auckland Anniversary weekend, the opening hours for the exhibition spaces at Te Koputu will extended hours from 10am to 5pm. A highlight on Saturday will be Melvin Day’s floor-talk, which will provide a greater insight into his selection and the merits of the works.

The Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award has been the cornerstone event of the Whakatane Community Arts Council’s Summer Arts Festival for 28 years. In 2013, the Arts Council (now Arts Whakatane) is partnering with the Whakatane District Council Museum and Arts team to present the exhibition.

More than 25 public programmes will be held at Te Koputu during the exhibition, including artist floor talks, art seminars, live music and dance demonstrations.

Great British Car Rally coming to Whakatane

Whakatāne is to feature as a lunch and rest stop on the second leg of The Great British Car Rally next month.

More than 200 British-manufactured vehicles, old and new, are expected to take part in the rally, which begins in Auckland on 17 February and ends in Christchurch on 22 February. Day 2 (Monday 18 February) will see participants travel from Tauranga to Gisborne, with a two-hour stop scheduled in Whakatāne from noon till 2.00pm.

The Whakatāne District Council’s Kakahoroa Drive Car Park (to the east of The Warehouse and between the rear of The Strand and Kakahoroa Drive) will be closed for the day to accommodate the rally participants and support vehicles.

Mr Bonne says a welcome is being planned for rally participants, who will also be encouraged to visit the Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award exhibition at Te Kōputu – the Whakatāne Library and Exhibition Centre – or take in the visitor experience provided at the Mataatua Wharenui.

Ecopoints now available at the Whakatane Information Centre

If you are wondering about how you can off set all that travel you are doing then you can ease your conscience by purchasing some ecopoints. The Whakatane Information Centre situated near the heart of the central business district now has ecopoints available for purchase. To find out more about Ecopoints visit

ecopointsTM is a community-based enivronmental resources programme, providing a connection between local business and the community to support environmental projects.

We are all aware of climate change, sustainability and the need to protect our environment for future generations and by being here and reading this, you are signalling your desire to participate in programmes that encourage all of these things. We all know that planting trees is good for the planet so we have created ecopointsTM to provide ways for businesses and the community to work together to achieve this.

Visitor Information Centre Holiday Hours

The Visitor Information Centre will operate restricted hours on public holidays.

Thursday 20 December – close 4pm

Friday 21 December – close 4pm


Christmas Eve (Monday) 8am to 5pm

Christmas Day – Closed

Boxing Day – 10am – 4pm

New Year’s Eve – 8am to 5pm

New Year’s Day – 10am – 4pm

2 January – 10am – 4pm

Mealamu, Gear, Dagg and Barrett to visit Whakatane

All Blacks Kevin Mealamu, Hosea Gear, Isreal Dagg and Beauden Barrett will make a flying visit to Whakatane on Tuesday 30th October. Fans will get a chance to meet the rugby legends at Rugby Park from 11am. They will also cruise the streets of Whakatane aboard a classic fire engines before flying out at 2pm.

The All Blacks are coming to Whakatane

Four All Blacks will be in Whakatane on Tuesday 30 October. They will be available to the public from 11AM at Rugby Park where they will sign autographs and participate in a surf casting competition. After the public session the AB's will make a short tour of the town aboard a vintage fire truck before presenting some awards at the local Fire Station.


The All Blacks will press the flesh in small town New Zealand next week.

As they did prior to last year's World Cups, groups of players will fly into eight towns around the country next Tuesday for a variety of community sessions including rippa rugby, hospital visits as well as games and challenges.

They'll visit Kerikeri, Whakatane, Taupo, Wanganui, Hastings, Blenheim, Leeston and Mosgiel.

The squad for the European tour will be named on Monday.

Ben and Dean's Amazing Adventure

Arrival Magazine's Dream Job competition winners, Dean from Utah and Ben from Taranaki (plus friends), are on a two month tour of New Zealand experiencing the best, the bizarre and the magic of our country. They'll be taking photos, making video, using Facebook and keeping everyone up to date with their adventures.

This week they visited the Eastern Bay and were lucky enough to experience....

White Island Tours - where Ben unicycled around the island!  That's a first.

KG Kayaks - an evening kayak on Ohiwa Harbour where they experienced the magical phosphorescence/bio luminescence of the harbour waters

Nativ Connectionz - an historic walking tour around Whakatane and hangi experience

Awakeri Hot Springs - a relaxing soak, bush walks and overnight camping

Motu Trails - a personalised MTB trip, including bike hire and a Helicopter trip over the stunning Motu area.

Ohiwa Harbour Holiday Park - chilling out with some beach side camping

They loved the relaxed pace of our region and had some great times. Thanks to all those businesses who hosted the Dream Job winners.

Manawahe Eco Trust Race Popular

The Manawahe Eco Trust 6 Hour Adventure Race to be held on Saturday 15 September has drawn entries from all over the North Island. Event Coordinator Neil Jones has created a superb course around the hills of Manawahe and Lake Rotoma. This race is the last in a series of three with local teams likely to take series titles across all categories.

Racing starts at 7:30am at the Manawahe Eco Trust building on Manawahe Rd. Although these events aren't easy for spectators those interested in seeing what happens in these types of events should head to the Trust Building where course details will be released. The core disciplines of the event are trekking, mountain biking and navigation. Mystery activities vary and have included shooting, archery, sling shot, kayaking, tubing and tasting wild foods. Event coordinator Jones admits to having included some new activities with an eco- theme.

Leading the mixed 4 person category is local team 'Taking the Pass' made up of three local bushmen Austin Oliver, Gordon Townsend, Lawrence Harper and tough triathlete Shona Steele.

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