You can’t write about this region without mentioning what just about everybody praises about the place, locals and visitors alike.
It’s the beaches. With no less than 12km of white sandy beach reaching from Mount Maunganui to Papamoa and a wide, welcoming Bay of Plenty coastline that stretches for 125km in total, it sure is hard to beat.
The water takes centre stage for many people living in the bay, with boating, fishing, swimming, surfing, paddle boarding and other water-based sports all firm favourites.
But when you get away from the beach, there is so much more to see and do and a great deal doesn’t cost a cent with amazing bush walks, bike tracks and scenic reserves all there to discover. I love getting out and about and head into nature when time allows, where tracks are exciting, peaceful or simply beautiful.
The Western Bay reaches from Waihī Beach to Ōtamārakau and the whole area covers more than 200,000ha of coastal, rural and urban areas. The main townships here are Waihī Beach, Katikati, Ōmokoroa, Te Puna, Te Puke and Maketū, with the fast-growing city of Tauranga is the region’s vibrant centre.
Traders and missionaries were among the first European settlers who developed communities at Maketū and Tauranga, while Ulster settlements were founded at Katikati and Te Puke in the late 1800s. Agriculture and the sea have always been important to the development of the region and that hasn’t changed over time.
Goodness in abundance
It’s not just the beach that makes the Bay of Plenty beautiful. The region is also known for its temperate, maritime climate and its incredibly fertile land. Everything grows here and it grows in abundance. I visited a garden in Athenree a few years ago where tropical fruits like bananas and mangos were growing. It was a little paradise.
When driving through the bay, you will see kiwifruit and avocado orchards all around you. Horticulture is a major player in the local economy.
You’ll find nurseries, honey producers, cheese makers, the odd quality winery, as well as suppliers of the most amazing free-range eggs. A foodie road trip, perhaps?
In the small seaside community of Maketū on Ōkūrei Point, you'll find a famous family of pie makers. Maketu Pies are world famous in New Zealand and the little township itself is as charming as it gets. No main roads go there and it is fair to say that Maketū is the end of the line.
There are many more charming beachside townships in the bay. In the east, you will find Paengaroa, Pongakawa and Pukehina while on the other side, west of Tauranga, some growing coastal settlements are Kauri Point, Tanners Point, Ōngare, Tuapiro and Athenree. I wouldn’t mind having a little holiday home in any of these spots.
On any Bay of Plenty beach, you will certainly feel as far away from the city as you can be, with magnificent views of Mōtītī Island, Mayor Island, Ōkūrei Point, Mount Maunganui, the Kaimai Ranges and the Coromandel Peninsula.
You may not want to leave the beautiful Bay of Plenty at all.