The Bay With Plenty Of Everything

8 April 2015
Read Time: 3.0 mins

When Captain Cook first named New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty in the 1700s, he wasn’t joking. Officially New Zealand’s sunniest destination, with short-lived winters and long summer days; complemented by fine food, wine, art and culture; ‘The Bay’ is indeed a place of plenty.

Tauranga, the sophisticated centre of the region, is a days’ drive along the winding roads of the Pacific Coast Highway from Auckland. It’s one of the world’s great touring routes and passes through some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery.

Tauranga offers boutique shopping, a thriving cafe culture and some top-notch eateries showcasing the region’s superb seafood and home-grown produce.

 Swim with the dolphins

Around Tauranga, a patchwork quilt of orchards and gardens produces everything from lip-smacking kiwifruit and citrus fruit to avocados. Catch one of the regular weekend farmers markets where you’ll meet the producers in person and taste their fresh seasonal treats.

Complement your stash with some native wines from Mills Reef Winery.

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Days Of Family Fun

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While it’s a great destination for gourmets and couples; there’s also plenty of family activities in ‘The Bay’.

Hear the history of flight at the Classic Flyers Aviation Museum; tackle the wall, gladiator pole and low ropes course of Waimarino Adventure Park; or the adrenaline-pumping obstacle course of the Adrenalin Forest.

Feeding the ducks and peacocks at the Katikati Bird Gardens; or going swimming with dolphins, is a day out the whole family is sure to love.

‘The Mount’ as the locals call Mount Maunganui, is a beach town at the southern end of Tauranga Harbour. At the tip of the peninsula lies Mauao, a dormant volcano, whose white-sand surf beach stretches for more than 100 kilometres. It was once voted the fourth best beach in the South Pacific.

 On the steps to the top of a volcano

There's a choice of tracks leading to the summit, some more challenging than others, but the views of the harbour, beach and Pacific Ocean make the effort totally worthwhile.

Mauao is a site of great significance in Maori legend, with a large pa (fort) site on top of the mountain. There are also many popular bike trails in the region to suit both beginners and keen cyclists.


Stay safe on New Zealand's roads. New Zealand Launches ‘DriveSafe’ Website

A South Island tour. Party Of Five: Road-Tripping The South Island On 4 Wheels With 3 Kids


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Take The Food Trail From Plant To Plate

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Out of Tauranga at Te Puna, the Paparoa Marae provides an authentic cultural experience. It's a working marae (Maori meeting place), so along with a traditional welcome and cultural performance, Maori elders are on hand to explain the carvings, and other aspects of Maori history, culture, and protocol; and you’ll be welcomed to share in a traditional hangi meal.

The artsy village of Katikati is known as New Zealand’s ‘mural town’. The community is passionate about art, which quickly becomes apparent from the murals which adorn almost every wall of its streets.

 The Paparoa Marae

Take a stroll along the Haiku Pathway, along the Uretara River, which passes stones carved with Japanese haiku verse, carefully selected by a local poet.

On the Katikati Food Trail you can follow your food from plant to plate, visiting 10 different artisan producers, and gathering armfuls of cheeses, salami, seafood, freshly-baked breads, and other goodies to take away.

A little further down the road is Te Puke, known as New Zealand’s ‘Kiwifruit Capital’. More than 80 per cent of NZ kiwifruit exports are grown in the Bay of Plenty.

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Set Your Watch Back 85 Million Years

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At Kiwi360 you can sample all sorts of kiwifruit-flavoured fare, including Kiwifruit wine and liqueurs. Top it off with a taste of New Zealand’s famous Manuka honey at the nearby Comvita Visitor Centre. While you’re there, travel back in time 85 million years on a one hour guided tour and learn about the time New Zealand’s forests were filled with prehistoric creatures and plants.

The Mataatua Marae and Wharenui (meeting house) are located in Whakatane. Here the story of tribal traditions and history are brought to life with brilliant interactive technology.

You’ll feel the grandeur of the beautiful ancestral carvings as you explore local sacred sites of significance, such as the rock where the first tribal canoe landed. Here you’ll meet local elders, descendants of the tribe’s great chiefs, and experience the legendary Ngati Awa hospitality.

 White Island in the Bay of Plenty

For a snack, Wally’s On The Wharf at Whakatane, reputedly serves New Zealand’s best fish and chips.

From Whakatane, White Island appears off the Bay of Plenty coast as a thick plume of smoke rising from the Pacific Ocean - the first visible sign of one of New Zealand’s most fascinating natural attractions.

A quick helicopter, floatplane or boat ride will see you walking on a belching live volcano. A closer view of this remote volcanic island reveals a lunar landscape dramatised by an eerie mist rising from the crater-lake, and a hissing and roaring that comes from deep below.

It’s that same geothermal activity that provides the hot salt water pools and spas throughout the region where you can soak those tired driving muscles.
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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to New Zealand.

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Kris Madden

Kris Madden is an award-winning travel writer whose articles have appeared in many Australian and international print and online publications and guidebooks. Her travels have taken her to more than 60 countries combining her love of writing with her passion for adventure.