Air New Zealand  has five direct daily flights to Whakatane, four from Auckland and one from Wellington with a flight time of 45 minutes. Rental cars are available at the airport. Check grabaseat for specials.
Another scenic drive is The Pacific Coast Highway , "traversing the spectacular east coast of New Zealand's North Island, is one of the great touring routes in the world. The Pacific Coast Highway is well signposted along the entire route, giving a safe and easy way to navigate through some of the most spectacular coastal scenery New Zealand has to offer". Whakatane is about half way along this scenic highway, which starts in Auckland and finishes in Hawkes Bay. The scenery is stunning, but you should note, Whakatane is probably the last big town before reaching Gisborne, so ensure you take some food along with you. There are no shopping malls between Gisborne and Opotiki!
Intercity Coachlines covers all of New Zealand and runs a daily (?) service to Whakatane.
A regular local bus service  operates between Whakatane, Ohope, Kawerau, Opotiki and Tauranga. The Ohope - Whakatane and Ohope - Tauranga line runs Monday to Saturday, while the Whakatane - Opotiki, Whakatane - Kawerau run 2x weekly. The fares are cheap as they have been subsidised by the regional council.
Whakatane has limited public transport. The Bay Bus Service  runs to Ohope, Tauranga, Kawerau and Opotiki, but not every day.
Renting a car is the easiest way to get around Whakatane and see all the local sights. Parking is free generally (there is only one area you have to pay - and not many locals will take this option) but they do have strict time limits.
Nga Tapuwae o Toi Walkways (in the Footsteps of Toi) is a walkway that shows off Whakatane's natural beauties. Many of the locals walk or run these walks as they train for events. The walkway is a loop between Whakatane township and Ohope Beach: one side takes you along the coast line and through major reserves; the other takes you through beautiful bush settings. The total trip can be completed in 5-7 hours and can be demanding at times. Pack a rain coat and warm clothes, as the weather can change quickly. There are signposts detailing important history of the area. Some of the places are pa (Maori fortified village) sites, so please be respectful of these.
Diveworks Dolphin and Seal Encounters (Whales and Dolphin Watch), 96 The Strand, Whakatane (Near Information Centre), ☎ 07 308 2001, . 0800-1630. Dolphin and seal watching or swimming. 4 hour trips in the vicinity of White and Whale Islands. Fast stable boats with trained crews. All equipment supplied. A Department of Conservation concessionaire and approved by Qualmark New Zealand as a certified visitor activity. Day charters also available for inshore and deepsea fishing, diving and sightseeing. Groups 1-15. Tackle and equipment for hire.$90- $160.
Kayaking. Local operators KG Kayaks run guided tours to offshore Whale Island as well as guided tours and kayak hire at nearby Ohiwa Harbour. Dolphins, orca and seals are regularly sighted along this stretch of coast.
Let's Go Fishing (Fishing in Whakatane), 125 Commerce Street, ☎ 0064 (07) 308 7528, . If you enjoy fishing, or you are keen to try it out, this is the place to be. Every style of fishing is catered for, whether you prefer to use salt water fly, or battle a marlin for hours; you will be able to do it here.
Bean Café, 72, The Strand, Whakatane (Across the road from the i-site), ☎ +64 7 307 0494, . Patrick and Wendy's lovely little café; free WiFi. Two prices above are for coffee, then for snacks (bagels, mostly). Coffee is roasted on-site, ultra fresh and tasty. Lovely folks let customers linger, charge their laptops and use WiFi. WiFi is not cheap in NZ, so this is really kind. NZ$3-4; NZ$5-9.