Bay of Plenty Must Dos!
Who doesn't want to feel like they are on holiday?! This beautiful region of New Zealand will have you laid on a beach, or soaking up the adrenaline. Either way, you're sure to love this awesome area.
WHAKATANE / WHITE ISLAND
There's something really special about Mt Maunganui that really captures your heart. This small town, nestled just 20 minutes from Tauranga has two beautiful beaches and squeezed in between them is 'The Mount'. In less than an hour, you can be up the top, over looking the beautiful shores of the region. Such a great reward for such little effort. There is a campsite at the base of the mount next to the hot salt water pools. Lined along the seafront, bars and restaurants are plentiful, giving you a real holiday vibe. It's no wonder so many people come here over the Christmas period.
Head into the city of Tauranga for a beauiful harbour where you can jump in the ocean and get some of the best fish & chips! Check out our vlog below!
Rotorua just has SO much to do! One of the bigger cities in the North Island, and if there's one place to blow some dollar, it's here! One of the best things we did whilst here was the Luge! Skyline is a central activity centre with hours of fun. Take the gondola to the top (about $35) which is a ride in itself with stunning views over the lake, and there you will also find: mountain biking, ziplining, the sky swing and much more. Just down the road is ZORB Rotorua as well for more action packed fun!
Head over to the other side of the city and you will find Government Gardens - an iconic park housing the Blue Baths and the Museum (both temporarily closed, but great architecture) and natural geothermal pools! If you're feeling a bit fancy, why not also check out the Polynesian Spa as well. Prices start from about $35 to lounge around in the pools.
Just south of Rotorua, you will also find multiple geothermal parks to wander around. We went to Waimangu Volcanic Valley that takes you on a 45 minute walk through New Zealand's youngest geothermal eco system. There are several different sites to pick from, each with their own craters and some with geysers too!
If you want to learn more about the Maori culture while you are in New Zealand, Rotorua is definitely the place to go. There are also several Maori tribes in and around Rotorua, where you can visit, learn about the culture and even have a hangi (traditional Maori underground cooker).
You may not have heard of Whakatane, but I am sure you will have heard about White Island - New Zealand's most active volcano. It last erupted in December 2019, where unfortunately 21 of 47 people lost their lives. We visited in January and so, due to the recent eruption and volcanic unrest, there were no boat tours going to the island (which I was pretty glad about given the circumstances), but we didn't want to miss seeing something so cool. Lucky for us, White Island Flights were still running their tours!
This was 1 hour flight over White Island, Whale Island and Ohope Bay. This was the first time we had taken such a small plane so that was an experience in itself, but the aerial views were just incredible! To fly over White Island and see the steam vents and colours on the island was crazy. Check out the vlog below!
If 'real' New Zealand is what you're after, you can't go wrong with the East Cape. Untouched, natural beauty and not so many tourists make it the perfect 'off-the-beaten-track' trail. Our advice would be to start from Opotiki going around to Gisborne. That way, you are on the coastal side of a two lane, mostly paved road. There are so many amazing stops along the 334km road, but our favourites were:
- Whanarua Bay - another stunning bay with its own sub-tropical climate and macadamia farms.
- Te Araroa - the mid point of the drive. Make sure you stop here if you will need any petrol!
- Tikitiki - a town with a beautifully Maori decorated church.
- Tu Puia Springs - found near the hospital.
- Tolaga Bay - a stunning bay with an extra long wharf and Cook's Cove walkway - a 2.5hour loop hike.
It's also worth noting you should stop at several beach locations along the coastline if you have time, they are simply beautiful. Our favourite was Pukehina where we stayed in a beach house! Check it out below!
If there's anywhere else you think needs to be on this list, don't hesitate to get in touch!