87. The highlights of a trip to the Bay of Plenty
With a natural landscape that encompasses everything from geothermal wonderlands to magnificent fiords and glaciers – you’ll be expressing your astonishment at every turn: here is No. 87 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
James Cook got it exactly right back in 1769 when naming the Bay of Plenty. Behind that long curve of sandy beach are treasures of all kinds, nurtured by the area’s enviable climate with its impressive annual sunshine hour tally. The best place to get a handle on it all is from the summit of Maunganui/Mauao. After a pleasantly strenuous walk, you’ve earned the reward of a 360-degree view of Tauranga’s sheltered harbour, a blue sea full of life rolling in to deliver surfing fun, the distant bulk of East Cape and, inland, fertile land growing kiwifruit, avocados and the makings of wine and craft beers.
Explore Māori culture at Whakatāne, where the traditional meeting house has a unique story and is possibly better travelled than most visitors. Enjoy wallowing in hot springs, kayaking on river and sea, cycling alone or with a chatty guide, and visiting an island nature reserve with its own hot water beach. Or you could see all this, and much more, from above with Adventure Helicopters. Its selection of flights will take you over it all, including the North Island/Te Ika-a-Māui’s tallest waterfall back in the Kaimai Range, and have you landing on a remote beach to top off the experience.