Tucked away on the eastern Bay of Plenty coast a little to the east of Whakatane is a hidden gem yet to be discovered by many of us, quiet and tranquil, the Onekawa Te Mawhai Regional Park is well worth exploring.
Visitor numbers to the park have dropped off this year, probably due to COVID-19 restrictions, but had peaked in the 2020 to 2021 financial with 20,346 visitors.
The year before saw 16,664 visitors to Onekawa.
The busiest day of the week for the park is always a Saturday and the busiest month for the park is January.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Land Management Officer Tim Senior said although the 26.8 hectare property did not get as many visitors as other parks in the region it still had just as much to offer.
“Located on the spectacular headland between the Ōhiwa Harbour and Bryans Beach, the park has so much to give including rich Māori cultural history, significant archaeological features, stunning scenery and a good dose of endorphins after completing the full hour and a half track,” he said.
The walk from the Ōhiwa carpark winds slowly uphill through old coastal forest dominated by puriri and pohutukawa, he said.
And because of regular pest control an abundance of tui and kereru are common in the area.
“At the top of the hill you’ll find the Onekawa Pā site with its spectacular views. Here, the whole of the tranquil Ōhiwa Harbour lies before you and on a clear day you can see west to the Mount, east to Te Kaha and the Raukūmara Ranges and south, deep into Te Urewera.
“If you know what to look for, you can clearly see the earthworks of four pā sites on the high points of the park. These are of huge significance to local Māori and allowed their forbears to defend their food basket in the harbour.”
The full circuit takes about one and a half hours to walk.
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