Waihi Beach is a coastal town at the western end of the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s North Island. It lies 10 kms to the east of the town of Waihi, at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula. The main beach itself extends approximately 10 kms. The town had a permanent population of 1773 as of 2006, but that increases to 16,000 in summer.
At the northern end of Waihi Beach, the 145 hectares (360 acres) Orokawa Scenic Reserve offers several short walking tracks along the coast and to Orokawa Bay. While the main beach is backed by the residential area of the township of Waihi Beach, Orokawa Bay is undeveloped and surrounded by native bush including pohutukawa, puriri, and nikau palms.
At the southern end of the beach is the small settlement of Bowentown and the northern side of the northern Katikati entrance to Tauranga Harbour. The Bowentown settlement includes Otāwhiwhi Marae, a marae (tribal meeting ground) of the Ngāi Te Rangi tribe and Ngāi Tauwhao sub-tribe; it includes the Tamaoho wharenui (meeting house).
Māori have lived in the region since pre-European times, with numerous pā sites within a few kilometres of Waihi Beach. There is still evidence of the old pā sites at the Bowentown end of Waihi Beach. The name Waihi (“Rising Water”) is said to be named after a stream which flows into the beach, the later town of Waihi taking its name from the name for the beach.