Haven’t been to Bay of Plenty for ages…was really pleasantly surprised at just how pretty it was and how many interesting things there are to do en-route.
Leaving the big smoke of Auckland, we decided to take the pretty coastal route to Whakatane. It is a long drive so suggest you have water and a yum packet of sweets handy in the car. If you possibly can, hold off for lunch until you reach the Karangahake Gorge – we discovered the most quaint winery there- Ohinemri estate. Tucked off to the side in the hills – about a 3 minute drive from the main road. It’s run by a really friendly German man – Horst and his wife Wendy with fantastic restaurant and accommodation attached.
Next stop an absolute must is Paeroa – the home of the “world famous to anyone in NZ” L&P soft drink. Invented in 1904 using mineral water near Paeroa and mixing it with lemon. I was amazed at how much this little town had grown since the last time I was there.
After Paeroa be sure to take time at Waihi, famous for being one of the great gold mining districts of the world. Waihi Beach, just outside the town is a great place for a quick dip to cool down. Nine kilometres of sweeping white sand with one of the safest surf breaks in New Zealand.
Having cooled off, we drove non stop the rest of the way to Whakatane where we had booked a sweet little motel room right in the middle of town. There are plenty of Motels in Whakatane but not too many in town – my recommendation is Tuscany Villas owned by an Australian couple with Italian roots, they have lovely plans for a restaurant to be added this year.
Five musts from Whakatane: 1. The Mataatua Maori Marae – the house that came home after being away for 130 years having travelled as far as the South Kensington Museum in London in it’s travels. It’s a short walk from the Tuscany Villas.
2. White Island – New Zealand’s only live marine volcano, situated 45 kms off the coast of Whakatane is definately worth a day trip. 3. Ohope beach – nominated as New Zealands favourite beach – 11 kms long, warm waters and safe swimming make it the perfect summer holiday destination. Be warned though, even though labelled as being safe, the waves and currents along the Pacific can be ferocious and are not to be underestimated – especially with small children in tow! Try the Hui Bar and Grill – we had a fab iced coffee there – perfect for a hot summers day!
Alternatively you might like to joint the locals digging for Tua Tuas
4. The surrounding hills between Ohope and Ōpōtiki are dotted with pā sites, including Tauwhare Pā near the turnoff to Ōpōtiki. Park the car and go for a little walk up the hill – the views are wonderful.
5. Ōpōtiki – a real contrast to Ohope and it’s wealthy tourists, Ōpōtiki is the perfect place for those who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of both city and popular tourist resorts. We discovered the best place to eat in the whole of the Bay of Plenty here (authors opinion) – the Two Fish cafe – they do not have a website but are situated on the main road by the Backpackers. The food is absolutely awesome and I am fussy!
Travelling back to Auckland I recommend you stop in Katikati and see how many painted murals you can find – this town is literally famous because of them!
Finally welcome back to the big smoke – Auckland and its wonderful shops and restaurants!
Thanks for reading my post and have fun!
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