Whatever you want for your holiday, the Bay of Plenty is ready and willing to bring it to life. Want to see a canyon full of glow worms? Want to learn to surf or wrangle a blokart? Want to shop at a farmers market then visit a brewery for a tasting paddle? Bring your vacation ambitions to Tauranga, Mount Maunganui or Whakatāne and let the fun begin.
Where to go and what to see in the Bay of Plenty
Stretching from Waihi in the west to Ōpōtiki in the east, the Bay of Plenty region is loved for its long white-sand beaches, sensational fruit and vegetables, massive range of outdoor adventures and cultural creativity, which you can experience as wonderful art and delectable food. Unless you just want to flop on the beach, we recommend you hire a car and do some exploring.
A coastal paradise of beaches and bays
Whether you're a surfer, swimmer, walker or sunbather, you'll find plenty of room to do your thing in the Bay of Plenty. At the western end of the bay, Waihi Beach is a relaxed seaside settlement with a stretch of gorgeous surf beach that's 10km long. There's another 100km ocean beach spanning from Mount Maunganui to Whakatāne, then Ōhope and Ōpōtiki beaches continue on the other side of the Whakatāne headland. All these fabulous ocean beaches have fine white sand and some are patrolled in summer.
Tauranga's inner harbour also provides plenty of scope for seaside activities. It's a place for sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, kite surfing and fishing. Or you can take a more leisurely approach to your holiday and enjoy picnics at places like Omokoroa, Bowentown and Pilot Bay.
Great outdoorsy things to do
Clad in native forest, Mauao (aka 'the Mount') is open for outdoor fun every day. There's a 45 minute base walk or you can hike to the summit for long-range views along the coast and inland to the Kaimai Ranges.
For a day away from the ocean, head inland to McLaren Falls Park, a popular spot for camping, kayaking, picnics and bush walks. There's a wide range of walking tracks, a beautiful waterfall, places to swim and glow worms after dusk. Pāpāmoa Hills Regional Park is another beauty spot for hiking - there are several pā sites here, as well as a summit to conquer.
Biking is big in the Bay of Plenty. There are leisurely cycle paths for trail riders and exciting challenges for mountain bikers. Favourite spots include Summerhill Trails, TECT All Terrain Park and Motu Trails. It's also easy to rent an electric bike for exploring Mount Maunganui and Tauranga.
Easy family adventures
Kids love visiting Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, and many of the great family things to do in the region are just as much fun for grownups.
If your family enjoys being on the water, there's an excellent choice of boat trips to consider. The longest cruises head out into the ocean, where there's a good chance of seeing penguins, seals, whales, orca and sharks. Some cruises even offer dolphin swimming, when conditions are right. For those who prefer calmer water, harbour cruises are an option. They offer the chance to disembark at Matakana Island or Omokoroa Peninsula.
Families with older children can discover the exhilaration of blokarting and drift trikes at BayStation. A blokart is like a windsurfer on wheels, while a drift cart is built to skid in a spectacular way around a specially-built track. Stand up paddle boarding is another fun activity for older kids - you can rent boards and get lessons at Pilot Bay in Mount Maunganui.
Other family activities in the Bay of Plenty include glow worm kayaking, listening for kiwi in the wild and meeting the characters at the Hairy Maclary sculpture park. And at the end of any busy day, the whole family can relax at the Mount hot pools or Fernland Spa Thermal Mineral Springs.
Exploring the entire Bay of Plenty
Roaming around the Bay of Plenty in a rental car is highly recommended. It means you'll see more than just the attractions close to your accommodation, including some as far afield as Waihi and Whakatāne.
Use your mobility to check out weekend farmers markets, which will furnish you with all the picnicking and snacking supplies you need. And nominate a sober driver to take you to a couple of the bay's fine breweries, like the Rising Tide Brewhouse in Tauranga. However, if nobody wants to do the driving, there's a Brewbus tour running three days a week from the Tauranga.
Food experiences beyond the Mount and Tauranga city should definitely be explored. There's a cider brewery restaurant in Te Puna and Mills Reef Winery in Bethlehem, just to mention a couple. If you make it as far as Whakatāne, be sure to visit Mataatua Wharenui - it's one of the best Māori culture experiences in the country and the full tour includes a traditional feast.
Best time to go
Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and the wider Bay of Plenty make up one of the sunniest regions in New Zealand. Daily maximum temperatures are around 23°C in summer and 15°C in winter. Many of New Zealand's best beaches are in this area, so it can be really busy in summer. Spring and autumn are a good idea if you want to avoid crowds. Winter often produces beautiful blue sky days.
How much will it cost?
Not including air travel and hotels, you should allow about NZD $100 to $150 a day per person for food and entertainment.
There are no mandatory vaccinations required for visitors to New Zealand.