The Bay of Plenty region is just that. You’ll find plenty of sun, local produce, beaches, walks, fish, hot pools and on-the-water adventures in this vibrant region. Maori have been living here for nearly 700 years, ever since the local tribes arrived by waka (canoe) and landed in this region. Nowadays the long coastal stretch from Waihi Beach to Ohope encompasses the main centre of Tauranga; the holiday hotspot, Mount Maunganui (a.k.a. The Mount); the kiwifruit capital, Te Puke; and New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, White Island.
KEY TOWNS AND REGIONS
Tauranga, Mt Maunganui and Papamoa
Tauranga is the main centre in the Bay of Plenty region and is one of the fastest growing cities in New Zealand. It is centred on a spectacular harbour that provides the urban area with an attractive waterfront setting. Across the harbour, the long sandy stretch of Mt Maunganui beach is one of New Zealand’s favourite spots. Further down the coast, Papamoa is a popular surf beach backed by large dunes, renowned for its fishing, surfing and the Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park. Papamoa’s walking tracks offer outstanding views over the Bay of Plenty coastline, and on a clear day you can see Maketu and Whakatane to the south and all the way to the Coromandel Peninsula in the north.
Waihi Beach, Katikati and Bowentown
Waihi Beach is coastal town in the western Bay of Plenty, offering nine kilometres of sweeping sand, with the historic village of Bowentown at its southern end. There are magnificent views from Bowentown Heads of the Tauranga Harbour. You can also take the steep track down to Cave Bay, popular as a fishing spot. Across the harbour from Bowentown lies Athenthree, a peaceful area with local hot springs, bushwalks and beautiful beaches nearby. Head inland to the small town of Katikati, where its inhabitants have portrayed their history with large murals on walls around the town depicting the events and people that have influenced the area.
Te Puke and Maketu
Located southeast of Tauranga, Te Puke is known as the kiwifruit capital of the world. Its main attractions include a kiwifruit theme park and an adventure park. Around 15 minutes from Te Puke, on the Okurei Point coast, the small town of Maketu is famous for the Maketu Pie Factory. The rocky shoreline of Okurei Point is ideal for walking, with wildlife to discover and great rock pools to explore.
Whakatane and Ohope Beach
At the mouth of the Whakatane River, 90km southeast of Tauranga, the sunny coastal town of Whakatane is the main centre of the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Its location overlooking the Pacific Ocean makes it a natural hub for fishing and marine sports. Off shore, the smouldering marine volcano of White Island (Whakaari) can be explored on a guided tour; the island’s acid lake offering a fascinating insight to nature’s primal creativity. The popular beach resort of Ohope Beach is located on a 11km stretch of sandy shore between the Whakatane Heads and the entrance to the unspoiled Ohiwa Harbour. Also visible from the coast is Moutohora (Whale Island), a wildlife island sanctuary. To the east of Ohope is Opotiki, and beyond that the unspoilt coastline of East Cape.
Getting here and around:
Central Tauranga airport offers domestic service with Air New Zealand.
The region has a good roading network, including the Pacific Coast Highway that links the eastern side of North Island, from Auckland to Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty, East Cape and to Hawke’s Bay.
Scheduled bus services, shuttles and taxis are available around the main hubs.
Self-drive is a popular option to explore the region. Car rentals are readily available at main centres.
Spring (Sep-Nov) – warming up, clear days with cool showers, 8-18°C; Summer (Dec-Feb) – dry and sunny, 21-30°C; Autumn (Mar-May) – moderate rainfall likely, 9-20°C; Winter (Jun-Aug) – mostly mild with rain likely, 6-17°C.