The town was settled in the 1880s, and should be an important port, but was not included in 1891 built Mole little accomplished it.
In addition to the role as an economic center, which specializes in dairy farming region tourism also plays a role. The city has one of the best beaches of Taranaki. It consists of black volcanic sand, at the northwest end of the beach there are great tide pools at low tide from volcanic rock.
In May 2006, an artificial reef was begun to built in order to improve the previously good conditions for surfing on. The work was soon interrupted, however, as the money was missing for the construction of the remaining 90 %.
On 19 May 2007, a memorial to those born in Opunake athletes Peter Snell was unveiled.