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Bay of Plenty

Experience

The Bay of Plenty region covers a large costal region with nearly 260km of remarkable coastline to explore with stunning white sand beaches and a number of other attractions. Waihi Beach and the surrounding area is definitely worth a visit along with Mount Manganui's impressive views and surf beach. White Island is an active volcano off the coast than can be visited by boat or helicopter!

Tauranga is the main city in the Bay of Plenty, with a population of around 140,000 it is New Zealand's fifth largest city. Stretching from the base of the Coromandel Peninsula to East Cape, the region is easily accessible to those with cars, camper vans, or by one of the top notch tours that explore the region.

  • 1 Waihi Beach
  • 2 Mount Manganui
  • 3 Tauranga
  • 4 Whakatane
  • 5 White Island
  • 6 Rotorua
  • 7 Wai-O-Tapu
  • 8 Whakarewarewa Forest
  • 9 Lake Tarawera
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Waihi Beach

This pristine 9km stretch of white sand has gained a reputation as one of New Zealand's top beaches and is also considered to be a very safe surf beach - perfect if anyone wants to learn! The beach and it's small town lie just south of the Coromandel peninsula on the East Coast less than an hour north of Tauranga, bordered on one end by lush native bush and on the other by the northern inlet to Tauranga Harbour. The town has a range of fantastic cafes, restaurants and boutique shops, otherwise the beach is the perfect spot to enjoy the sun and take a swim.

There is a spectacular bush walk that starts at the northern end of the beach and takes you to the stunning Orokawa Bay, a blissful beach bordered by native Pohutukawa trees and only accessible by foot or boat. The walk takes 45 minutes one way and can be slippery when wet, if you wish you can carry on past the northern end of the beach. There are two tracks here, the inland one is 40 minutes each way and will take you to the William Wright Falls, the coastal track will take you two hours and travels to Homunga Bay. Check out the signs to be sure of where you are going!

Visit Waihi Beach and Orokawa Bay with out North Island Pioneer tour!

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Mount Manganui

Mount Manganui is a coastal suburb of the city of Tauranga, the coastal town has the impressive Mount Manganui at the northern end and is bordered by the Tauranga Harbour to the west and a white sand beach stretching far to the south on the eastern side. The beach is an incredible spot for sunbathing, surfing and swimming, and on calm days there are a few small offshore islands that can be paddled out to via kayak or paddle board.

The summit of Mount Manganui provides a breathtaking view of the coast and harbour and can be reached by a short 30 minute walk from town, if you're visiting the area it's well worth it! There are fantastic waterfront facilities, with cafes right next to the beach and pop up food and coffee stands along the boardwalk during the busy summer months. Mount Manganui is definitely worth a visit and has plenty of fantastic accommodations if you have the time to stay a night or two.

Our favourite things to do in Mount Manganui:

• Hike to the summit of Mount Manganui

• Take a surf or have a go at learning

• Enjoy a coffee on the beach

• Sit back, relax and soak up the sun - it's a perfect spot to unwind!

We visit Mount Manganui and explore the area with our 7-day North Island Pioneer tour!

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Tauranga

 

 

Tauranga is the largest city in the Bay of Plenty region, with a population of around 125,000 and a number of beautiful seaside suburbs such as Mount Manganui. It lies on the shores of Tauranga Harbour and has one of the largest ports in the country which is no surprise as the Maori meaning of Tauranga is a 'sheltered anchorage' or 'safe resting place'.

The busy coastal town is well know for its commerce and close proximity to some of the most incredible beaches and attractions in New Zealand. There are a number of fishing, diving and sightseeing boats that leave from the harbour and explore the fantastic coast surrounding the city. The city has a domestic airport with flights arriving from all around the country and is only a 3 hour drive from Auckland.

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Whakatane

 

Located in the south-east of the Bay of Plenty region, Whakatane is on of the earliest areas settled by the local Maori up to 1000 years ago. The small city of 35,000 people lies near the coast next to the Whakatane River where it meets the sea, this geography has also created a stunning headland at the river mouth that had been preserved as a historic reserve. 

One of the popular attractions in the are is the White Island Volcano, this incredible and active volcano rises straight out of the ocean and continues to belch steam and mud on a constant basis. Located 48km offshore, there are a number of boat and helicopter tours that depart from Whakatane and allow visitors to experience the wonder of White Island. Only a five minute drive from the town centre is the popular Ohope beach, this beautiful beach has a number of cafes and accommodation options right on the beach.

Getting to Whakatane takes just over an hour from the nearby city of Tauranga.

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White Island

 

White Island is a fascinating volcanic island that rises 321m above sea level and lies 48km off the east coast of the Bay of Plenty. The Island has built up over the last 150,000 years and continues to grow today as it belches mud and emits steam on a constant basis. In the early 1900's people tried to utilise this incredibly desolate landscape as a sulphur mine before later abandoning the attempt due to a mining disaster that saw 10 men killed in a landslide thanks to the unstable conditions on the island.

Now days the island is only used as a tourist attraction and for scientific research purposes, there area number of boat and helicopter tours that visit the island on a daily basis, most departing from the city of Whakatane. There is also fantastic diving to be found in the waters surrounding the island thanks to the warm and mineral rich waters created by the volcano. These conditions have allowed a unique underwater ecosystem to develop around the island, however because the island is so far offshore and there is so much to explore most diving trips are multi-day so it pays to research and book well in advance!

White Island is one of New Zealand's most fascinating attractions and we highly recommend visiting!

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Rotorua

 

Rotorua is often considered a cultural heartland of New Zealand and has a deep seated Maori history and Culture that attracts visitors from all over the world. With an abundance of lakes, mountains, forests, rivers and most importantly geothermal activity, Maori have been living in the area since the 14th century. To this day the geothermal activity in the area is utilised by the locals, originally used to cook food, as a source of heat and many other things, it is now used mainly as a source of generating electricity and heating homes. 

The geothermal activity is obvious as soon as you near the city, you can see steam vents rising high in the air, spot bubbling mud pools and smell the sulphuric acid in the air. Rotorua has become famous as a destination to see the incredible wonders of geothermal activity with violently erupting geysers, bright orange and green steaming pools, black mud pools, deep volcanic craters and so much more!

Another reason most visitors travel to Rotorua is to step back in time and witness Maori culture through incredible displays of song and dance, traditional meals, performances, art and language. There are a number of fantastic cultural experiences to choose from in the area.

Aside from cultural and geothermal attractions Rotorua is also a world class mountain biking destination, the most famous are being the Whakarewarewa Forest where there is a well established network of trails for people of all abilities to enjoy. There are fantastic facilities on site and top notch rental, shuttle and guiding operators to be found right in the forest and throughout the town itself. 

Additionally Rotorua has an incredible array of blue springs and stunning lakes to explore, some of the well know lakes include Blue Lake and Lake Tarawera where a number of outstanding bush walks can be found. On the northern shores of Lake Rotorua the Hamurana Springs well up from deep underground with some of the purest water in the world!

Rotorua is in between Taupo and Tauranga, about an hours drive from each and a little over three hours from Auckland City.

Discover the wonders of the Rotorua region with our North Island Pioneer tour!

We highly recommend the following if you are visiting Rotorua:

• Discover Maori Culture through one of the fantastic Maori village experiences

• Enjoy the multitude unreal geothermal sights

• Go for a walk on one of the stunning trails around Blue Lake or Lake Tarawera

• Mountain bike through the impressive redwoods of Whakarewarewa Forest

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Wai-O-Tapu

 

Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland is a highly active valley with dozens of seperate geothermal attractions including the Lady Knox geyser, New Zealand's largest mud pool, the incredible blue and orange 'Champagne Pool' and much more! Named by TripAdvisor as one of the 20 most surreal places on earth, it's easy to see why as you wander amongst the kaleidoscope of colour, steam and mud in the valley.

Wai-O-Tapu is located between Taupo and Rotorua, approximately 40 minutes and 20 minutes drive from each respectively. Discover Wai-O-Tapu as part of our spectacular North Island Pioneer tour or make it part of your very own custom tour!

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Whakarewarewa Forest

 

This thriving 14,000 acre forest is right next to Rotorua and is full of lush Redwood, pine and native trees. The redwoods were planted back in the 1800's and while small compared to other places in the world, they are large by New Zealand standards and currently reach up to 70m tall here. Throughout Whakarewarewa Forest there are a large network of walking, horse and mountain biking trails to suit all ability levels, with 130km of trails accessible for mountain bikers. 

The Forest has an international reputation for some of the best mountain biking in the world and as such has become a world class destination. The Forest is well set up with a fantastic network of guides, shuttles and hire facilities in the city and within the Forest itself. 

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Lake Tarawera

Lake Tarewera is only 15 minutes from Rotorua and is the largest lake in the district, the area has a fascinating history. The smaller neighbouring Lake Rotomahana was the site where the ancient Pink and White Terraces, internationally referred to as the '8th wonder of the world' used to exist before being buried by an eruption of Mount Tarewera in 1886. The terraces were formed over centuries from silica rich waters that flowed down the hill from boiling geysers before cooling and crystallising to form a series of pools and held in by silica walls.

150 people were killed during the eruption, many of them from a local Maori village that was also buried, but is now being uncovered and considered one of New Zealand's most important archeological sites. You can visit the Buried Village and learn about the Pink and White Terraces, local history and the impact of the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarewera.

Lake Tarewera is protected by the surrounding mountains that usually lead to calm and clear conditions perfect for boating, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and exploring. There are a number of remarkable walks around the lake, one of the most popular being the 15km Tarewera Trail that leads to Hot Water Beach campground. Not to be confused with the coastal Hot Water Beach of the Coromandel Peninsula, this lakeside beach is similar in that there are hot water springs underneath the sand, meaning you can dig your own hot pool in the beach! You can either stay the night and walk back the next day, or organise a local water taxi to pick you up from the campsite.

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