The coastal Bay of Plenty is located along the pristine Pacific Coast Highway, and takes in 125km’s of white sandy beaches. Stretching from Waihi Beach to New Zealand’s best kept secret, Ohope, the region offers a mix of outdoor activities, scenic attractions, culture and top dining experiences.
Home to New Zealand’s fifth largest and fastest growing city, Tauranga, the region oozes a laidback sophistication which is recognised through the boutique shopping, thriving café culture and a wide selection of locally sourced and internationally themed eateries.
The region is naturally fertile and agriculturally rich with avocado, kiwifruit and honey products. Te Puke boasts the largest kiwifruit export industry in New Zealand, living up to its tag line ‘Goodness Grows Here’.
The heritage of the Bay of Plenty is threaded across various landscapes, presenting a fascinating storybook for visitors to explore and enjoy.
Three of the first seven waka (canoe) that reached New Zealand some 1,000 years ago, arrived in the Bay of Plenty. The region offers experiences like Mataatua Marae, ‘the house that came home’, located in Whakatane where such stories are retold in an interactive and unique style.
When Captain Cook first reached the shores of the Bay of Plenty in 1769, he was so impressed by the regions plentifulness – the fertile sea, land and natural resources, he named it the ‘Bay of Plenty’.
The plentifulness recognised by Cook continues today with an abundance of seafood, kiwifruit, avocado and Manuka honey.
Bay of Plenty is rich in Māori culture and history with sacred spots such as Mauao, Papamoa Hills and Maketu, and many pa (fortified village) sites. Guided tours to many of these historic sites highlight the area’s cultural history.
Mauao, the sacred mountain at Tauranga’s harbour entrance, translates as ‘caught in the light of the day’. According to Māori legend, the once nameless mountain was spurned in love by another mountain, the beautiful Pūwhenua. One night Mauao begged the fairy-like creatures of the forest to drag him to the ocean and end his misery, but the creatures fled as the morning sun-rays struck leaving Mauao transfixed to his spot.
Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park (Te Rae o Papamoa) is a significant site. The park has 10 ancient village sites that are amongst New Zealand's oldest. A walking track to the summit reveals views of Tauranga harbour and Mauao.
At Maketu, near Te Puke, a foreshore memorial commemorates the landing place of the Te Arawa canoe during the great migration.
Adventures and activities
From New Zealand’s only active marine volcano to sites of national historic importance and stunning coastal walkways and beaches, the region has plenty on offer.
Visit the local Artisans at Waihi Beach, or self-drive the Katikati Cuisine Trail meeting with local producers designed to take you from plant to plate with fresh seasonal delicacies. For the more adventurous, try a hand at blokart’s located in Papamoa. These three wheeled, land based yachts are designed to provide a revolutionary new speed thrill.
Head out to White Island (Whakaari) for a guided tour around the crater of the active volcano. A renowned once in a lifetime experience, fly over the steaming island for exceptional views or chance spotting one of the Bay of Plenty’s 10,000 dolphin pods on board a high speed Catamaran.
Finish the day with a relaxing soak at Mount Maunganui’s hot salt water pools, under the shadow of Mauao or enjoy a warm sunset walk around or up the iconic ‘Mount’.
The Bay of Plenty is officially New Zealand’s sunniest destination, sporting short lived winters and drawn out summer days.
Mount Maunganui, more locally known as simply ‘The Mount’ has long been a favourite holiday destination for New Zealanders – and it’s catching on. Boasting internationally recognised surf breaks, warm ocean waters and white sand beaches the Bay of Plenty attracts large numbers of visitors over the Christmas/New Year period. Events and festivals are in full swing, meaning you can do as little or as much as you please.
Fishing, diving, and watching or swimming with dolphins are just a small selection of ways to get out in the sunshine. Head out to Kiwi360, a purpose built orchard and experience centre, for a sample of the regions tasty, refreshing kiwifruit straight from the plant or treat your skin with Manuka Honey infused products from Experience Comvita just down the road.
• The Bay of Plenty boasts 125 kilometres of sandy white beaches along the stunning Pacific Coast Highway
• Mount Maunganui beach, was recently voted New Zealand’s best beach by Trip Advisor, and the 4th best beach in the South Pacific. The expansive coastline is popular for its marine life, surfing, fishing and diving
• The port of Tauranga is New Zealand’s largest port by tonnage and also hosts approximately 80 international cruise liners per season. The Bay of Plenty is a popular cruise destination, with many local attractions and also easy day-trip proximity to Rotorua and The Lord of the Rings, Hobbiton movie location
• The Bay of Plenty is home to New Zealand’s only active marine volcano. Tours by boat or helicopter (with landing) to the island with guided walk is simply breath taking and heralded as the “best two hours in New Zealand”
• Te Puke is the “home of kiwifruit” and has a purpose built Kiwi360 orchard and experience centre, the only one of its kind in New Zealand. The region also boasts Experience Comvita where you can marvel at the role of the honey bee and nature before shopping for internationally exported Comvita skin care and wellness products.