Winter Wonderland

The Bay of Plenty is famous for its sunshine, sand and surf but winter is also a fantastic time to visit our region!

The weather here is milder between June and August than you’ll find almost everywhere else in New Zealand. Daily temperatures in the city average 14˚C-15˚C and overnight lows are just 5˚C-7˚C. Whakatāne is often crowned the sunniest place in New Zealand and basks in that title all year round. Average sea surface temperatures in winter are 15˚C-17˚C so you can happily pop on a wetsuit and dive straight in!

Bay winter days are generally clear, crisp and vibrant so you can embrace outdoor adventures and indoor comforts depending on your mood.

Here are some heart-warming ideas for a fun winter escape in the Bay of Plenty…

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HOT POOL HEAVEN

Sinking into the comfort of a hot pool is hard to beat on a bright winter’s day or cool starry night. There are plenty of geothermal hot pools to choose from in the Bay which vary from 30°C to 40°C. Many of our local hot pools are surrounded by lush native bush and there are often private pools, colder pools, toddler pools and BBQ facilities on offer too.

Mount Maunganui’s famous hot saltwater pools at the base of Mauao is one of the most popular, or you can check out Fernland Spa, Oropi Hot Pools, Sapphire Springs, Welcome Bay Hot Pools or Awakeri Hot Springs for some soothing relaxation.

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Cultural Highlights

The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga provides a fascinating glimpse into Tauranga’s early history and settlement. Step inside the old homestead of Tauranga’s earliest European missionaries and learn how they lived and interacted with local Māori. Guided tours are available or you can look around at your own pace.

Tauranga Art Gallery is well worth a visit and has some incredible exhibitions that pass through its doors throughout the year.

If you’re staying near Whakatāne, head to Mataatua - The House That Came Home. This intricately carved meeting house has travelled the world and brings to life the rich cultural heritage of our region.

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FAMILY FUN

There are loads of fun activities for you and your family to experience while you’re in the Bay. Soak up the warmth of the Mount Hot Pools, challenge your family to a fun game of bowling at Tenpin Bowling or visit the Classic Flyers Aviation Museum. From outdoor adventures, parks and playgrounds and yummy food - the region offers so much more than sand and surf (although the beach is pretty great, even in winter).

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CYCLING TRAILS

Getting around on two wheels is more popular than ever, and the Bay of Plenty has an ever-growing list of off-road and urban cycle trails for you to explore.

Ōmokoroa’s 19km coastal Cycle Trail is another popular route that winds its way along the harbour, and if you book a Te Ara Tourism e-bike tour you’ll learn a lot about our region’s culturally significant spots along the way.

Tauranga’s Kopurererua Valley Reserve is one of Australasia’s largest urban wetlands and features a fantastic cycleway between The Lakes in Tauriko and the Historic Village on 17th Ave. A mixture of boardwalks, gravel and sealed pathways wind their way alongside the Kopurererua Valley stream and is perfect for all ages and fitness levels.

Thrill-seekers should head to Oropi Grove Mountain Bike Park, TECT All Terrain Park or Summerhill Recreation Farm to ride the best mountain bike tracks in the region.

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Truffle Hunting

Some of the best quality truffles in New Zealand are grown in the Bay’s fertile soils and unique microclimate. Te Puke Truffles and Ohiwa Black Diamonds both offer weekend truffle hunts and tastings during winter months. These dedicated truffières (truffle plantations) also sell unique truffle-infused products like salt, honey, olive oil and butter for you to take home and wow guests at your next dinner party.

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WALK THE BAY

Short walks, long tramps, waterfall meanderings or a beachside stroll – if you love to explore on foot and appreciate scenic beauty, you’ll love the Bay of Plenty.

Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park is one of the world’s last prehistoric rainforests and has 155km of superb walking and tramping tracks to suit all levels. Winter is also the perfect time for Whakatāne Kiwi Trust’s Night Walks where you can explore native bush in the dark and learn about the local kiwi population.

McLaren Falls Park is a 190ha public reserve 20km from Tauranga’s CBD, featuring a serene lake and one of the best botanical tree collections in New Zealand. A beautiful place to walk in autumn and winter.

Mauao (Mount Maunganui) has arguably two of the best short walks you’ll find anywhere in Aotearoa – one to the ‘summit’ that rewards you with amazing view over the city, the other around a 3km ‘base track’ where you can spot seals, penguins, sea birds and taste the salt spray in the air on a stormy day.

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TASTY TOURS

Captain James Cook aptly named the ‘Bay of Plenty’ after its abundant food supplies and bountiful gardens. Sample this region’s best local artisan products and meet the inspirational people behind them via a Taste of Plenty tour or Tauranga Tasting Tours. Sample local cheeses, olive oils, macadamias, smoked meats, manuka honey, chocolates, gelato and seasonal fruit as well as top restaurants like The White House and Trinity Wharf Hotel. A great way to savour this region’s cuisine.

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SOMETHING'S BREWING

Bay of Plenty’s craft beer scene is exceptional and there are endless tap houses to visit in winter – each boasting their own unique brews and flavours. Mount Brewery’s offerings can be found at The Rising Tide bar, while Mata Brewery has a tasting room in Whakatāne. Lumberjack Brewing and The Island in Papamoa also have their own tap rooms, but the easiest way to sample them all is to book a full day Brewbus tour: Brewbus NZ Craft Beer Tours New Zealand.