Bountiful BAY OF PLENTY
Stretching from Waihi Beach to Ohope along the Pacific Coast Highway, SARAH WEEKS discovers the beaches and harbour, the thriving kiwifruit industry and Maori culture of the Bay of Plenty. Officially the sunniest place in New Zealand with 125km of coastli
Considered the gateway to the Bay of Plenty, Katikati is two hours drive south- east from Auckland and has many attractions. Visit the only Haiku pathway in the Southern Hemisphere, which features the largest collection of Haiku stones outside Japan, with over 40 short poems written by poets from around the world. The town is also known for it’s many murals painted around in public places depicting events and people who have influenced the area – it’s like an outdoor art gallery. Drive the Katikati Cuisine Trail and meet Artisan producers who take you from plant to plate, with fresh seasonal produce, cheese, salami, breads and goodies to take away. With its white sandy surf beach on the ocean side and a safe sheltered inner harbour beach, Mount Maunganui is a favourite summer holiday destination. Discover a dynamic display of classic aircraft at the Classic Flyers Museum and café, sightsee by bike or tee off on one of the mount’s superb golf courses. For the best views in the bay, walk up or around Mauao, Mount Maunganui’s dormant volcano. After a day’s activities, you can relax and unwind in the warm salt water hot pools under the shadow of Mauao. Located about 15 minutes from Te Puke is the seaside village of Maketu Beach, known for its stunning estuary and ocean beach. Take a stroll along the sands, play a round of golf, go surfing or horse riding. But make sure you sample one of the famous Maketu pies made from an old family recipe, try fresh fish takeaway or dine in a local seaside café. There are short guided walks available where you can learn about the people and landing of the Te Arawa Waka, then drive on to Okurei Point for sweeping coastal views and explore the rugged Newdicks Beach. From Te Puke, enjoy the scenic drive to the beautiful Pukehina Beach, a small, friendly beach town on the east coast surrounded by rural communities. Bordered by a crystal clear rolling surf beach, glittering sands, with an estuary harbour and boat ramp, it’s one of New Zealand’s few unspoilt beaches with an unbeatable, relaxed lifestyle.
Visit Waiotahi Beach to view two carved poles, which depict the arrival of Maori to Opotiki and you, can also learn about the rich history of the area at Opotiki Museum. Ride the spectacular Motu trails, one of New Zealand’s “great rides” on the New Zealand Cycle Trail and explore the Waioeka Gorge Scenic Reserve where you can go hunting, tramping, swimming, canoeing, rafting and fishing or just enjoy a picnic. Waihi Beach is a 9km stretch of ocean beach with plenty of places to eat, drink and shop. The northern end of the beach has a walk that you can enjoy along a track that traverses the headland to Orakawa Bay and secluded Homaunga Bay. This scenic spot fringed by pohutukawa trees provides spectacular views and is perfect for a picnic or swim. At the southern end is ANZAC Bay with great views across to Matakana Island and south towards Mount Maunganui. The Wilson Road shops are an eclectic mix for both locals and visitors and there are some nice eateries dotted around the area. You can also visit the local Artisan art studios and galleries.
View of the Bay of Plenty, from Mauao Summit.