There’s something about the Labour weekend holiday.
It’s the first long weekend in months. The days feel longer and warmer, and for many of us it’s the beginning of an unofficial countdown to summer.
It’s a great opportunity to come out of hibernation and get back amongst the fun and frivolity – something the Bay of Plenty offers in spades.
Tauranga’s flagship arts event, the Tauranga Arts Festival, runs through Labour weekend.
Billed as ‘the greatest party between heaven and hell’, the festival’s headliner event, LIMBO, has captivated audiences and sold out venues worldwide.
LIMBO is dirty and dangerous stuff, whisking audiences into a sinister netherworld of jaw-dropping contortion, gut-churning aerial acrobatics, mind-boggling illusions and fiery flames hot from Dante's inferno. Taking sexy bravado to dizzying new heights, this circus-cabaret, is wild, wicked and out of this world.
A rambunctious live band led by Sxip Shirey dishes out devilish electronica beats on brass, harmonica and concertina - the perfect live soundtrack for some other-worldly circus antics.
The Festival is hosting three shows over the Friday and Saturday of Labour weekend and tickets are limited – so get in quick.
In another Festival Labour weekend highlight, multi-award-winning Canadian-born, New Zealand singer-songwriter Tami Neilson hosts a one-off acoustic show in the Carrus Crystal Palace on Monday afternoon.
If indulging in some retail therapy is your idea of a great holiday weekend, we’ve got you covered.
The Bay of Plenty’s newest shopping destination, Tauranga Crossing, is a great place to start. With over 100 stores to explore, including H&M, Farmers, Decjuba, Aim’n, and Max and fantastic eateries such as Bird on a Wire, Hawker & Roll and Something & Social, there is something for everyone. Tauranga Crossing is also home to Event Cinemas’ six screens, including the first purpose built, world class VMAX auditorium in New Zealand.
Bayfair has been one of the Bay’s most popular shopping destinations for more than 30 years, and it’s only getting better. If you haven’t yet had a chance, check out the brand new alfresco dining precinct – featuring favourites like Cleaver & Co and Izakai (mentioned below), let the kids loose amongst the arcade games, prizes and flashing lights of Timezone, or shop until you drop at favourites stores like Glassons, Hallensteins, Portmans, Peter Alexander and Adairs. Watch for future developments, including a new seven screen cinema complex.
Fashion Island in Papamoa is another popular choice – boasting discount stores for major fashion retail chains – as are the shops and boutiques of downtown Tauranga and the Mount.
What would a holiday weekend be without great food and even better beverages?
Fortunately, the Bay has options a-plenty.
Situated in Tauranga’s historic post office, Clarence Hotel and Bistro strikes a balance between elegance and simplicity. Award winning chef Ian Harrison has created an innovative, modern European bistro menu inspired by his English roots and those of Italian owner Noel Cimadon, and the IKI bar is a great place to enjoy a cocktail or craft beer.
Our Place on Willow Street in the centre of Tauranga is home to home to local favourites Johney’s Dumpling House, Southern Fries and East Coast Ice Cream, as well as High Tide – sister bar to popular bar and eatery The Rising Tide, boasting 40 taps of craft beer, wine and cider.
A short walk from Our Place, gin lovers won’t want to miss Nomad on The Strand. Nomad’s menu changes with the seasons to reflect a nomadic way of life, while the drinks list features six delicious gin and tonic based cocktails.
You’ll find Asian fusion restaurant Macau on the same stretch, boasting great food and water views. The upstairs Macau Lounge takes in the best of those views, alongside a fantastic selection of wine, craft beer and cocktails, in ambient surroundings.
Bamboo is another popular choice for Asian fusion and boasts one of the Bay’s best cocktail menus – their espresso martini is not to be missed.
Izakai in the Bayfair Dining Precinct provides a local Māori twist on the Japanese Izakaya (a bar in which a variety of small, typically inexpensive, dishes and snacks are served to accompany the alcoholic drinks). We recommend the Buzzy Cuzzy from their cocktail menu – made using 100% Agave Tequila Blanco, orange flower cordial and locally sourced honey, shaken with lemon juice, egg white and mandarin peel.
You’ll need to rest and recharge in between your arts adventures, shopping soirees and gastronomic gatherings – and that’s where Trinity Wharf comes in.
A 4.5 star luxury hotel located on – and above – Tauranga’s waterfront, Trinity Wharf offers 123 rooms across three categories – urban, harbour and apartment. It also features a gym, pool, waterfront restaurant and bar, and is the official accommodation partner for the Tauranga Arts Festival.
Treat yourself to a premium Water View Spa Guestroom or the Trinity Wharf Suite for spectacular harbour views and a luxurious spa bath. There are also two and three bedroom apartments if you’re visiting with a larger group.
Looking for something a bit closer to the beach? Check out newly-opened Paradise Beach Luxury Accommodation in Pāpāmoa. From a 4 bedroom family-sized home, to a romantic barn ideal for couples, explore their high-end accommodation for the ultimate Pāpāmoa beach stay. Luxuriously appointed, each barn has beautiful outdoor entertainment spaces, pool and spa access and the very best in amenities and comforts.
There you have it. Labour weekend in the Bay of Plenty – why would you want to be anywhere else?