The Coastal Bay of Plenty does winter a little differently. While many parts of New Zealand are bunkered down in snow and sleet, this region has a climate distinctly its own. With dreamy blue skies and crisp sunshine-filled days, the cheerful maritime temperatures mean you can make the most of the accessible, and profoundly beautiful, outdoor adventures on offer any time of year.
From end to end, the Coastal Bay of Plenty has 125 kilometres of epic coastline so there are plenty of idyllic towns to stay in. Hunker down in the seaside hamlets of Ōhope or Waihī Beach, or stay close to Tauranga for shopping, activities and foodie delights.
TRACKS & TRAILS
Hugged by the Kaimāī Mamaku Conservation Park in the west and the Pacific Ocean to the north, the Coastal Bay of Plenty is home to one of the most popular short walking destinations in the country, Mauao (Mount Maunganui).
Māori legend tells of the mountain’s broken heart, and how he fled an unrequited love, carving out rivers along the way. Mauao now sits 232 metres above sea level, standing guard at the entrance to Tauranga Moana. Winter is the perfect time to experience Mauao – there are fewer people but the coastal view is just as divine. Look out for the occasional fat seal, or little blue penguin, capering on the rocks below.
40 kilometres inland is Mauao’s rival, the chiefly Ōtanewainuku mountain. Ōtanewainuku is an unlogged native forest, cared for by a dedicated group of local volunteers, and is a haven for precious birds such as kiwi and kōkako. There are three easy to moderate walks to choose from, including the 2-hour return track to the popular Whataroa Waterfall.
EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY
A unique micro-climate is good for more than just pleasant weather. It means that the Coastal Bay of Plenty is a hotbed of produce; specifically kiwifruit (80% of New Zealand’s total exports) and other horticultural superstars like avocados and berries. Local chefs draw on the freshest of local ingredients, and the hospitality scene has been delivering a boon of new culinary experiences. Find out why Tauranga is New Zealand’s new foodie destination.
The local craft beer scene is similarly productive. You won’t go far in the region without spotting a ‘Mermaid’s Mirth’ or a ‘Pāpāmoa Pale Ale.’ Try a paddle tasting selection from Rising Tide in Mount Maunganui or take a craft beer tour with Brewbus. Check out this guide to the Bay's ultimate brews.
SOAK YOUR CARES AWAY
Whether first thing in the morning or under a wide winter night sky, the region has eight geothermal pools for you to soak in. The Mount Hot Pools first opened in 1966 and now offers five open hot pools of varying temperatures, all fed by hot saltwater from underground. Fernland Spa in Bethlehem is nestled amongst native bush and boasts 100% pure mineral water that is refilled daily.
A CITY ON THE RISE
Tauranga, meaning a place of rest or safe anchorage, is the largest city in the Coastal Bay of Plenty. While parts of the downtown city centre are currently being upgraded (Tauranga is the fastest growing city in the country), there are pockets of excellent shopping, street art and restaurants. Metres from the city's bus stop is the container mall ‘Our Place’ which creates a lively inner-city destination. Visit the Tauranga Art Gallery or climb aboard the iconic 1953 Kewpie cruise boat and see the city from the water.
Along with the region’s growth comes exciting new shopping destinations. Tauranga Crossing has over 70 stores, 25 eateries and a new movie theatre complex with day beds and recliners. Bayfair in Mount Maunganui has opened its new restaurant complex, which is quickly becoming one of the region’s dining hot spots.
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THINGS TO DO IN WINTER