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Things to do in Bay of Plenty § Attractions, Activities & Places to Visit

Summer beckons, The Bay of Plenty is traditionally viewed as an annual Christmas holiday destination for its beaches, beautiful scenery and farm to plate eating culture. Delicious kiwifruit, berry farms, craft breweries, artisan baked goods and deli favourites stock well laden weekend markets. Festivals galore during the summer months create a happy buzz with live music, street entertainers and pop up stalls from Waihi Beach to Opotiki. The rich soil is New Zealand’s fruit basket with avocados, berries and oranges gracing the farm to plate culture of restaurants and cafes.

Linger on art trails, in galleries and studios. The Bay, with its glorious weather has attracted artists, crafty people and creative talent who relish the climate and sense of space the area has to offer.

Unearth the Bay’s secrets and discover places where peace and quiet are guaranteed. And the Bay is a treasure trove of attractions and events year round. Delve into what the Bay has to offer you will not be disappointed.

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TAURANGA

The regional hub for the Bay Tauranga & Mount Maunganui naturally attract the majority of visitors with a wealth of attractions from climbing the Mount to watch skydivers and the panoramic views, kayaking to observe glow worms on Lake McLaren or taking a cruise to Matakana Island for a day.

Sunset boats in Tauranga Bridge Marina, Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty
Sunset boats in Tauranga Bridge Marina

ADVENTURE – TOP PICKS

The balmy weather, the year round temperate climate encourages visitors to get out and into the action whether on the water, in the air or through forests.

  • Rocktopia Clip & Climb Tauranga wet weather attraction
  • Dive Whakatane and discover the marine world where an active volcano alters life
  • Dolphin Seasafaris swim with the dolphins in the Bay
  • Classic Flyers open cockpit flight is sheer adrenaline
  • Take the plunge and float over the Bay with SkyDive Tauranga
  • Discover canoe slalom racing on the Kawarau River, seriously social adrenaline adventure. TIP: Check What’s so great about Kawerau

INDOORS – TOP PICKS

Temptation the name is the Bay with its shops, galleries showing creative talent and markets with its foodie treats.

  • Western Bay Museum in Katikati is fun, interactive and a great place for kids
  • Tauranga Art Gallery with its kids programme, interactive exhibits and contemporary spaces, plus gift shop
  • Shopping in Tauranga / Mount Maunganui – cafes, malls and unique collectables
  • Leisurely brunch / lunch on the harbourside cafes / restaurants watching water activities, people and chilling out
  • Hot pools trail, doesn’t matter what the weather is the beautiful alkaline mineral water will soak away the chill
Western Bay Museum, New Zealand @Western Bay Museum
Western Bay Museum @Western Bay Museum

OUTDOORS – TOP PICKS

Apart from the local regional parks of Papamoa Hills Regional Park and McLaren Falls Park there are glorious native bush / forested areas to explore ancient landscapes nearby. For holiday inspiration check out what Whirinaki Forest best bits are or 4 Aongatete Forest special places to visit, things to see: Best Bits and ideas for a road trip to Whitianga with a stop in Aongatete Forest – Best Bits. One of the best ways to explore outdoors for visitors short on time is to check Bay of Plenty 10 short walks.

Ohope Scenic Reserve entrance, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Ohope Scenic Reserve entrance
  • Ohope Scenic Reserve exploration combined with Nukuhou SaltMarsh – Cheddar Bay walk
  • Cycle the shared pathways along the Bay, the must-do Tauranga CBD to Mount Maunganui
  • Whirinaki Forest Park and waterfall loop track, listen to the bird song
  • Cycle or walk the Dunes trail with its ocean coastal landscape. TIP: Whakatane to Opotiki is extraordinary
  • Discover Opotiki’s Hukutaia Domain walk with its ancient native trees and the place where bones were once buried
  • Climb the Mount and walk the base of Mount Maunganui and enjoy the contrast between the bustle of Main Beach and Pilot Bay

Best places to visit

FAMILIES – TOP PICKS

The Bay of Plenty is ideal for families with the range and diversity of attractions for kids, adults and family members.

  • Evening glow worm kayak on Lake McLaren
  • Waimarino Water Adventure Park is a must-do
  • Discover Maori heritage at Mataatua Meeting House
  • Learn to surf with the kids at Waihi beach
  • Follow art trails in Katikati and Tauranga, selfie moments galore
  • Picnic on Pilot Bay’s foreshore watching container ships ply their trade
  • Te Puna Quarry park and find whimsical creatures on the pathways
Forest tree in McLaren Falls Park, a parkland set alongside Lake McLaren and is just ten minutes by car from Tauranga city in New Zealand
Forest tree in McLaren Falls Park, a parkland set alongside Lake McLaren

ROMANCE ON A BUDGET – TOP PICKS

The urban vibe of Tauranga / Mount Maunganui is a contrast in the quiet rural areas of the Bay. From camping by the beach or situated on the Mount’s waterfront the choice is yours. For visitors based in Tauranga / Mount Maunganui check out Tauranga romantic places, things to do for couples.

Mount Maunganui @Wikipedia
Mount Maunganui @Wikipedia
  • Climb the Mount together for the iconic sunset photo op
  • Soak away the sweaty glow in the Mount Hot Salt-Water Pools
  • Cruise the harbour with Kewpie on a cute 1950’s vintage boat to Matakana Island
  • Follow the hot pools trail and discover quiet places where privacy is a given
  • Find Christmas fairy dust year round in Te Puke & find a special memento
  • Cruise the Bay (from Whakatane) and dig your own hot pool on Moutohora (Whale Island)

BEACHES IN THE BAY OF PLENTY

From Waihi Beach in the northern part of the Bay to Opotiki, gateway to the East Cape Bay of Plenty is summer magic. There are surf beaches with a nifty sandbar creating a marvellous paddling experience for kids in Omokoroa Beach or Pilot beach.  Mt Maunganui Main Beach offers visitors surfing, sand and people watching. Nearby cafes ensure you have lots of foodie treats. Coastal walks, beaches off the beaten track and places where the sea, land and shore create wildlife refuge invite you to further explore the coastline in Bowentown.

Waihi Beach hosts a summer festival season with the beach the place to hang out. Nearby Katikati joins in the fun with weekend markets and street art for beach goers who need a change of scenery. Savour the sheer enormity of Papamoa Beach with over 16 km of white sandy beach to find a quiet space for yourself and family.

Ohope Beach is an ode to summer with the choice of the safe estuary harbour beach or the Ohope Beach with its summer scene, lifeguards and the thread of cafes. For visitors short on time check Bay of Plenty top 5 beaches where to get a taste of beach culture and beach buffs who want the quiet beaches with space to spare check out Bay of Plenty beaches, places to go.

Waihi Beach, New Zealand @Harcourts Gold Star
Waihi Beach @Harcourts Gold Star

HOT POOLS

Geothermal natural energy supports a number of hot pools in the Bay. Hot mineralised alkaline water is a balm for the soul sourced deep from the earth. Soothing, warm baths, nothing says it better than a leisurely soak. For details where to go for your hot pool experience check out Bay of Plenty hot pools.

Anthenree Hot Pools, New Zealand @athenreehotsprings
Anthenree Hot Pools @athenreehotsprings
  • Athenree Holiday Park has a marvellous suite of hot pools and they are complimentary for guests camping in the park
  • The Mount Hot Water Pools has a must-go attraction with its hot salt-water baths a welcome respite after trudging up the summit to take in the panoramic views
  • Oropi is another treat with accommodation and hot pools tempting visitors to stay awhile
  • Omokoroa is a hidden treasure with hot pools and camping grounds
  • Awakeri Campground rustic setting is home to an authentic kiwi hot pool where the spectacular bush setting is part of the package deal
  • Fernland Spa Mineral Pools and campgrounds are a quiet lovely surprise in suburban Tauranga

TOWNS IN THE BAY OF PLENTY

Learn about the Bay through its rural settlements and summer beachside towns. Follow the coastline and unearth summer holidays where the beach beckons surfers to try out their new boards and kids paddle in estuaries. Spend days supine under the beach umbrella. Beachside communities tempt visitors with cafes offering ice creams in dripping cones, cool freshly squeezed juices and snacks to keep the energy levels up. Waihi Beach is a favourite escape for city dwellers and the astute visitor alike. Athenree with its historic homestead and quiet cliff top walks to historic Maori pa (fortified villages) sites is a welcome respite for heritage buffs. Katikati is fun with amusing street art and owner operated studios to linger in.

Find out where you want to go below, discover the hidden gems beyond cosmopolitan Tauranga / Mount Maunganui.

Tauranga and The Mount are ridiculously close to major North Island attractions creating an ideal hub to explore further. Read more In a day Hobbiton, Lord of the Rings day trip from Tauranga.

Tauranga Whatakane: Maori cultural attractions 92km
Tauranga Taupo: water sport heaven 136 km
Tauranga Rotorua: Mineral hot springs anyone? 57 km
Tauranga Hobbiton: plenty of time to meet & greet the hobbits of Lord of the Rings film trilogy 58 km
Sunset at Leisure Island (Moturiki), Mt Maunganui, New Zealand
Sunset at Leisure Island (Moturiki), Mt Maunganui

ITINERARIES AND ROAD TRIPS

The Bay of Plenty is an invitation to let the hair down, wind down the window and take to the road.

Find out what the Bay has to offer on an art, craft and culture trail where living in Maori culture is a contemporary experience for visitors or find a historic homestead 19th century settlers once called home. The Bay with its temperate climate, lush landscapes is a mecca for artists with studios, street art and workshops to linger in. Read more Bay of Plenty art, craft and culture road trip and Bay of Plenty five day family road trip.

WHERE TO STAY IN THE BAY OF PLENTY

Tauranga / Mount Maunganui is a natural hub for attractions and festivals. For a weekend or several days checking out what the area has to offer it is an ideal place to base yourself. For an extended holiday check out the Bay of Plenty towns with their art galleries, beaches and walks and you could be tempted to explore further. For camping ideas check Camping in the Bay of Plenty for inspiration.

@top10holidayparks @top10holidayparks
@top10holidayparks @top10holidayparks

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