The Maori name 'Whangamatā' comes from the words 'whanga', which means bay, and 'matā', which means a hard stone, in reference to the obsidian which washed up on the beach. Areas along the coast such as Onemana were locations where matā (chert) and matā tūhua (obsidian) were found and processed into stone tools.
Whangamata began to emerge from isolation in 1923 when a clay road was formed through the 31 kilometers of bush-clad hills and valleys which separated the settlement from Waihi.
The local population of Whangamata is 4,540 and increases to around 60,000 people in the summer months. Whangamata is a popular holiday destination, with one of the main attractions being the beautiful white sand beaches that are great for all water-based activities such as fishing and diving, kayaking, paddleboarding and swimming.
Whangamata has one of the best surf breaks in New Zealand, referred to as “The Whangamata bar”. Also, the beautiful surrounding forests that hold breathtaking walks through native bush.
Whangamata is also home of the Beach Hop, a five-day celebration of '50s & '60s culture and lifestyle with hot rod cars, clothing, music and events of that era.