The coastal Bay of Plenty has great surf beaches which extend from Waihi Beach in the north to Whakatane in the south. Stunning harbours and an expanse of sparkling turquoise water provide a wealth of activities from wakeboarding and waterskiing to fishing, kayaking, and swimming in the calm waters off Pilot Bay, Tauranga Harbour is truly one of natures playgrounds.
Several islands located within a short distance from the coast are well worth a visit and provide world class fishing and diving opportunities.
Tuhua (Mayor Island) has had the conservation status of a wildlife refuge since 1953. A marine reserve was created off the northern end of the island in 1993. The water clarity means a wide range of marine plants thrive and there is a great diversity of fish. Walking tracks around the island provide access to points of interest.
Whakaari (White Island) New Zealand’s only active marine volcano,is located off the coast of Whakatane. The volcano offers a once in a lifetime experience of walking on an active marine volcano. White Island is estimated to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old
Motiti Island is located 15 kilometres from the coastal areas in the region. It’s a largely flat island that covers nearly 10 square kilometres of land and has very few residents. The island is mainly used for agriculture, though there are private beaches to explore.
Matakana Island 20 kilometres long and runs parrallel to Tauranga's inner harbour from Bowentown in the north to Mount Maunganui in the south. The majority of the island is forest, and most of the roads are privately owned. The only transportation to the island is a barge, which leaves either from Sulphur Point in Tauranga or Omokoroa. Although a quiet, beautiful island, there are no accommodation options available, and only a small village of residents. Permits are required to use the roads.
Our rivers, lakes and waterfalls
Lake McLaren and the Wairoa and Kaituna rivers just a short drive out of town, offering scenic surroundings great for a picnic lunch or for the more adventurous try your hand at white-water rafting, kayaking, and jet boating.
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The region has many well-maintained parks and reserves to explore and a wealth of great walking tracks.
The varied landscape includes the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park, which offers a genuine Kiwi bush tramping experience. The forest is a natural wonderland with a variety of native trees and ferns, and the plentiful rainfall in the Kaimai Ranges yield vibrant, colourful flora, and fauna.
Regarding the grounding of the cargo ship Rena and the environmental impact that occurred in Oct. 2011 in the Bay of Plenty:
The efforts of the 8000 plus volunteers that worked countless hours combined with the amazing adaptability and power of mother nature has thankfully made the effects of the Rena largely a fading memory for locals, tourists and business operators a like. The white sand beaches of the Bay of Plenty have returned to their world renowned beauty, business is thriving, tourists have returned and locals are loving having their beaches back. We are also happy to report that the activities and operations in our marine environment, for which the region is most known for, have also bounced back . Dive and fishing charters are operating at full capacity, dolphin watching businesses have reported dolphins, orcas, and blue whales just offshore and surf contests and surf lifesaving events have returned to the sunny shores of the Bay of Plenty. We thank you and understand your concern for our environment and can assure that the Bay of Plenty has returned once again to a top destination for domestic and international travellers alike.