Bay of Plenty
Where else in New Zealand can you step foot on an active marine volcano? Or kayak across a lake to see a canyon shine with glow worms after dark? Here you can explore bush-clad islands, admire waterfalls, glimpse Kiwi, be utterly pampered and relax on white sand beaches.
Whakaari (also known as White Island) lies just offshore from Whakatane. The majority of this geothermal giant hides beneath the ocean, but its hissing, bubbling and sulphurous crater is a force to be reckoned with and can be explored year-round. Book a helicopter or boat tour for an experience you’ll never forget.
With 125km of stunning coastline and beaches to enjoy, you’ll immediately get into the holiday groove. Visit the Bay’s famous Mount Main Beach, Ohope Beach and Papamoa Beach – which are the #1, #6 and #10 best beaches in New Zealand in TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travellers’ Choice Awards. You can learn to surf, kayak or paddleboard almost anywhere. If you’re already a pro, head out into the open ocean with just the seagulls for company.
On land there are extensive walking tracks and cycle trails to lead you around coastal towns or through peaceful native bush. Walk over the headland at Waihi Beach to discover Orokawa Bay, or enjoy a picnic at the secluded Otarawairere Bay – a short walk from Ohope’s West End beach.
The Bay of Plenty is blessed with fertile land and abundant seafood. The locals love to share delicious kiwifruit, avocados and fresh produce with the rest of the world. Talented chefs will serve up the finest local ingredients at cafes and restaurants. Or book appointments to visit local artisan food producers and indulge in their salami, cheeses, macadamias, olive oils and other products using the Katikati Cuisine Trail map as your guide.
Manuka honey is another ‘food hero’ in this region. Local beekeepers harvest this precious resource from remote parts of the North Island and deliver it to production facilities here in the Bay. The most well-known brand is Comvita which exports its manuka honey and propolis products all over the globe. Make sure you visit their headquarters in Paengaroa to learn about the fascinating science behind this natural healthcare range and the amazing resources which Mother Nature provides.
Locals also love to showcase their Maori and European roots with visitors. Celebrate this region’s unique heritage by visiting Mataatua marae in Whakatane and feast on a hangi (a traditional Maori meal) at NATIVconnectioNZ.
As locals will tell you, “in the Bay of Plenty it’s in our nature to wear a smile on our face and genuinely welcome others to our piece of paradise. We can’t wait to see you soon.”