The Bay of Plenty was named by Captain Cook in the 18th century and the moniker remains apt. Renowned for its bounty of produce – including the famous kiwifruit – the region’s abundant sunshine and mild climate are the perfect complement to the long arc of its coastline. Hit the beaches or explore the hinterland with its forest walks, white-water rafting and fruit farms. Then head out on the water to see White Island, an active volcano.

Highlights

White Island (Whakaari) Just 50 kilometres off the coast from Whakatane in the eastern Bay of Plenty lies the active volcano of White Island, an otherworldly place of boiling mud, thermal streams and plumes of steam that can be visited on a guided boat or helicopter tour. Mount Maunganui (Mauao) An impossible-to-miss landmark in the Tauranga region, the cone of ‘The Mount’ rises from an isthmus between Tauranga Harbour and the Pacific Ocean. White-sand beaches The long arc of the Bay of Plenty offers superb sandy beaches all the way from the Coromandel Peninsula to East Cape: Waihi Beach, Mount Maunganui, Papamoa and Ohope, to name just a few. Wairoa River The Wairoa River offers some of the best white-water conditions in New Zealand, starting with gentle Grade Two cascades and building to thundering Grade Five rapids. Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park Situated in the Kaimai Ranges of the western Bay of Plenty, this forest park offers stunning scenery – from lush rainforest carpeted with ferns to Kauri trees and waterfalls. Café culture in Tauranga Tauranga offers great harbourside shopping, dining and coffee. It is one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing cities.

Destinations

Waihi Beach Popular beach getaway boasting excellent surf. Katikati The ‘mural town’ is a small arty village. Tauranga Small but sophisticated harbourside city. Mount Maunganui Renowned for surf and white-sand beaches. Te Puke The kiwifruit capital of New Zealand. Whakatane Base for visits to volcanic White Island. Ohope Popular beach resort. Opotoki Relaxed beach town and gateway to Eastland.

Getting There and Around

Air Tauranga Airport, in Mount Maunganui, has direct flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, along with a few smaller North Island destinations. The nearest international airports are in Rotorua and Hamilton: both offer flights to and from Australia. Auckland International Airport is the closest full-service international airport. Road Access by road from Auckland is via the Pacific Coast Highway (2 hours, 55 minutes). Tauranga is 1 hour, 15 minutes from Rotorua. Coaches provide regular services around the region, although the eastern Bay of Plenty is serviced less frequently. Tauranga to Auckland [205 km; 2 hr, 55 min] Tauranga to Hamilton [106 km; 1 hr, 30 min] Tauranga to Whakatane [97 km; 1 hr, 25 min] Whakatane to Rotorua [85 km; 1hr, 15 min] Whakatane to Gisborne [201 km; 2 hr, 50 min]