Leaving Whakatane coming towards Tauranga there's yet another roundabout. We like roundabouts in New Zealand. (We even have roundabouts with traffic lights, just to confuse you!*)
Matata (Matta-tar to the locals) is a sleepy seaside town with an interesting area of lagoon wetland running between the main road and the beach. Once you've passed through Matata you're on one of the loveliest stretches of coastal road in New Zealand. On your left is a series of steep wave-eroded cliffs held together tenuously by the roots of massive pohutukawa trees. As I've mentioned, these trees are breath-takingly beautiful around Christmas when they are smothered with masses of crimson blooms.
On your right is the sea, although mostly just glimpsed from time to time.
Unfortunately this length of road is prone to slips in winter, and can be down to one lane or even impassable for hours, sometimes days, as crews work to clear away the debris.
About half way between Pikowai (Pick-o-why) and Pukehina (Pook-eh-hee-nar) the road leaves the coast briefly, and curls inland to cross the Waitahanui (Why-tar-har-noo-ee) Stream. There's a picnic area at the top when it touches the coast again, and that's your last view of the sea for a while.
* More about these another time.