The bay of Plenty is well named, as there is plenty of things to get up to. Either cultural hideouts or some beautiful sandy beaches ↠ there is something for everyone that much we have seen.
Without further ado, here are our adventures in the Bay of Plenty area.
Rotoura was truly everything it was hyped up to be. Only pongier. With sulphur in the air we rocked up for our weekend exploration of the famous volcanic city. Finding random steam vents coming from the ground and heated pools with nothing attached to them, was truly one of the weirdest and most wonderful moments of New Zealand thus far. We then went to the Geysers just on the outskirts of the main town. These were the crème de la crème of all of the smelly hot pools in the land. The smelliest, and the biggest, blowhole looking natural attraction I’ve seen. They were truly something to behold but as long as you hold your breath when around them.
If you are heading to New Zealand any time soon I am sure you will make a trip to see them yourselves and you most definitely should. While you are there why not make a trip to Abracadabra café and bar, the food is good and the smoothies are even better. What more could you even ask for?
There are two main Maori village tours that you can head over to for a cultural immersion for a day or evening. We opted for an evening with the Mitai Maori village. There we had the chance to experience a hangi meal, which is a traditionally cooked feast of lamb, chicken and vegetables all made over the volcanic steam vents that slow cooks all of the food together. There is a show put on for you pre-hangi to show you the traditional weapons and to learn about their family traditions and tribe. The whole event was highly informative and told us all about the traditional tattooing style and patterns, (ta moko, as they call it). All in all a very interesting evening to learn lots about the Maori people in general as well as to get to know this particular tribe.
The final thing that we got up to whilst in Rotoura was heading to the Buried village. This was the birthplace of tourism in New Zealand before a volcano erupted and destroyed what they called the eight wonder of the natural world, the terracotta terraces. A very interesting outing to see what was previously there along with a beautiful waterfall walk to finish off your trip at the site. Overall I think that if you are heading to Rotoura, even if you don’t manage to see everything or do it all, you will have such fun. Just go when you have a blocked up nose would be my one piece of advice to you all.
This for us was a really spur of the moment pick for us to visit as a result of a friends recommendation and oh my! What a recommendation. The town itself has been named after the mountain that sticks out by itself on the end of the peninsula. The stand-alone hill is a popular walking spot or even running if you are up for the task. I was very happy to have a leisurely stroll up in the morning before the sun got a little too warm for us pale creatures. It is also the home of surf lessons if that is what interests you and they even teach it at school which is a novel idea for me anyway.
On first arriving at Mt Maunaganui we thought to ourselves, what on earth are we about to drive into. All we could see was the huge port that was lined all down one side of pilots bay. It wasn’t until we had reached the centre of the town that we started to see the charm of the place. It boasted a lot of cute bars and cafes with lots of people spilling out onto the streets. Not a bad place to set up in at all. Overall a 10/10 ranking from us.
Whakatane & Opotiki
So after hearing so much about the fabulous beaches all around the bay of plenty we couldn’t just call it a day without visiting one or two more places. We chose to stay one night in Whakatane and one in Opotiki.
Whakatane is the main town on the coastal area that I could find and it was nice. There are some really lovely walks that you can do around the area which are more than enough entertainment for us. We did however underestimate the steepness to the initial section of the coastal trail that leads around the Kohi point scenic reserve. Only later to find that there is a short cut up that can be taken by car to the viewpoint over the city. We were not impressed. On our way back down however we did manage to catch a pretty sensational sunset as well as stumbling across a waterfall that lead straight to the town itself. Only in New Zealand can you find places by accident that anywhere else would be a top tourist attraction.
Just off the coast of Whakatane is New Zealands most active volcano (erupted in 2013) that is also known as White Island. There are many tours to go and see the island, which is privately owned. Who would want to own an island that has a very active volcano on it I shall never know. We didn’t get the chance to go to it but the tours mostly leave from the town.
After our time in the coastal town we headed towards Opotiki to get some much needed beach time in. We spent the day lying in the sun on the large beaches that are found there and drinking a few cold beers. A much needed rest from all our adventures. Time well spent!