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Family fun

Bay of Plenty 5 day family road trip

  • 4 minutes


Attractions, things to do with kids

Take a road trip and explore the sights with the kids. A five day family road trip with holiday ideas from Waihi Beach to Whakatane. Spend several days in Waihi or Katikati enjoying the beach, the artists and weekend markets where catering is solved. Then it’s Tauranga with its warm summer days, award winning Main Beach and a touch of adventure for kids and adults alike. Perhaps spend some time in Whakatane unearthing the story of Mataatua the house that came home or relax in Mount Maunganui with a day trip exploring the district.


  • Start: Waihi
  • Finish: Whakatane
  • Duration: 3 – 5 days


November – mid-March

Route map

Waihi to Whakatane approximately 161 km


Water sports, aquatic adventures, the Bay is where your next family adventure begins. Here are four family friendly beaches for kids of all ages. Start the journey in Waihi and move south following the Bay of Plenty coastline.


Waihi Beach is the ideal spot to kick start the holiday into high gear. Spend a few days in Waihi Beach soaking up the beach vibe with everyone from teenagers to toddlers getting into the action. Remember to check nearby Waihi with its gold mining experience for kids who are interested in rocks and how to find gold. Read more What’s so great about Waihi Beach – Best Bits.

Bowentown domain @Waihi Beach
@Waihi Beach
Brighton Rd Playground, New Zealand @Beach Pacific Apartments
Brighton Rd Playground @Beach Pacific Apartments
  • Kauri Point wharf (Katikati) is a popular location for fishing and water bombing. This wharf extends 200 metres out from shore.
  • Brighton Rd Playground with a castle, tunnels and plenty of swings. Set alongside a basketball court, toilet block and public barbecue is the Waihi Beach.
  • Cycle NORTH END TO BOWENTOWN CYCLE PATH on a dedicated cycle walk linking Waihi Beach to Bowentown. Pass playgrounds, picnic areas, cafes and enjoy the coastal scenery.
  • Join Waihi Beach Surf School


Ohope beach is another holiday destination for water lovers. SALT SPRAY SURF SCHOOL will get beginners onto a board with humour and laughter. Check out Ohope beach surf cam – Ohope Surf Cam it’s fun and check the weather before you arrive at Ohope Beach. Maraetotara Reserve is a popular reserve and playground at Ohope Beach. Facilities include electric barbecues, toilets, exercise equipment and overnight campervan parking for self contained vehicles. The playground has a flying fox, pirate ship, skate ramp, swings, slides and exercise equipment and much more. Maraetotara Stream mouth is suitable for toddlers and kids to enjoy their first touch of summer beach water sports. For more information about Ohope check out What’s so great about Ohope.

  • Ohope beach with its spit and safe Ohiwa harbour offers an ocean beach (patrolled with lifeguards) or calm harbour suitable for kayaking, SUP or boogie boards.
Ōhope Beach, New Zealand @Bay of Plenty NZ
Ōhope Beach @Bay of Plenty NZ
Mount Maunganui beach panorama, New Zealand
Mount Maunganui beach panorama


Explore an island and dig for your own hot water pool at Matakana Island. Get started with a cruise on the vintage Kewpie Cruise. There are several options with a one hour cruise absorbing the marine world or jump off and spend the afternoon on Matakana being picked up later that day.


Mount Maunganui Main Beach is awesome, the sheer drama of the hill, the tremendous sweep of white sand, the people and the buzz of cafes and restaurants is exciting. For families wanting a calmer space harbourside Mount Maunganui, Pilot Bay is the place to be. The calmer waters are ideal for kayaking, paddling and there is plenty of parking, toilet facilities and public BBQ’s to make a day at the beach comfortable.

Read more about Bay of Plenty beaches for dedicated followers of sun, sand and surf.


Unearth what the Bay has to offer and take the day(s) off from washing sand out of the kids’ hair. From Waihi Beach Katikati is a mere ½ hour towards Tauranga with its glorious street art. Tauranga is a hive of attractions with amusing public sculptures, indoor museums and art trails. Further south is Whakatane, one of the country’s authentic Maori experiences awaits at Mataatua, the beautifully carved meeting house that came home.


Katikati street art murals are the ideal way to introduce kids to the fun of art. You get vivid large murals expressing emotion, points of interest and the history of Katikati. What a start to cultural understanding. Then there is a funky museum in a former fire station to explore.

Katikati town mural wander, New Zealand @Tourism Bay of Plenty
Katikati town mural wander @Tourism Bay of Plenty


Tauranga is fun with stories that come to life. Hairy Maclary & friends engage kids, encourage kids to jump and climb over the sturdy Lynley Dodd storybook characters. Then there is the adjoining playground with a lighthouse tower and slide. Check out the pirate ship and the imaginative flying saucers. Selfie moment here with Mum coming up.

Mataatua offers visitors an imaginative digital recreation of the East Polynesian navigation to New Zealand, the story of a Meeting house that travelled the world. Now it’s back home in Whakatane waiting for your visit. Find out what makes a great carver and the importance of the building to the local iwi (tribe). Read more about Bay of Plenty art, craft and culture road trip ideas.


KATIKATI BIRD GARDENS with its open spaces and aviaries artfully embedded into the landscape folds beautifully into a day exploring what Katikati has to offer. For more ideas about what Katikati has to offer check What’s so great about Katikati, Bay of Plenty.

TAURANGA Waimarino Evening Glow Worm Kayak Tour. This is guaranteed success. Your guide will ensure you discover a hidden canyon lit with fire flicks of luminescent glow worms. It’s magical to kayak in the deepening twilight on the quiet Lake McLaren.

BAYWAVE and the largest wave pool in New Zealand is heaven for water babies with an enormous hydroslide, aqua play station and enough water fountains for everyone to feel thoroughly cooled down on a warm day. There is an onsite cafe for restoring coffee for caregivers.

Katikati Bird Gardens, New Zealand @Katikati.Bird.Gardens
Katikati Bird Gardens @Katikati.Bird.Gardens



Dream of being an aviator then find out about vintage aircraft at Classic Flyers aviation museum (Tauranga). It’s hands on with kids getting to climb in and out of planes. The huge open air hangers are full of historic memorabilia making this a memorable experience for everyone. There is an excellent onsite cafe making lunch an easy affair.

Marshalls Animal Park, situated within McLaren Falls Park is 35 acres of friendly animals. Meet and greet exotic and domestic animals for emus, giant African ostriches, Texas longhorns, several breeds of sheep, deer, goats, birds, pigs and horses from Clydesdales to cute miniatures. Lake McLaren is glorious, walks through shady exotic trees, swimming in the lake and places to kayak.


The Bay in summer and campgrounds is a match made with you in mind. Check out our list of campgrounds, Bay of Plenty camping for holiday accommodation. Remember to book in advance as summer is the peak season. A comfortable hotel, a dash of glamour or conveniently placed motel with generous space there are plenty of options as the Bay is an experienced host.





Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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