Soothe your spirit at these restful beachy getaways
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s how connected to nature we are. We’re also feeling a new appreciation for the calming vibes Papatūānuku (the Earth Mother) offers us. If a little getaway to soothe the soul is on your mind, check out these classic Kiwi beach spots in the Bay of Plenty.
Head to beautiful Bowentown for a holiday with two beaches – one on your doorstep for surfing and fishing, and the other for stand-up paddleboarding and safe swimming for the littlies. Bowentown lies at the northern head of the Tauranga Harbour and overlooks Matakana Island. Spend the day lounging at Shelly Beach - a calm bay just around the corner. Discover some of the Bay of Plenty’s early history by exploring Bowentown Heads on the Anzac Bay to Te Ho pā site track and take in the sweeping views up the coast when you reach the summit. Take a visit to Athenree Homestead to experience the life of an early Irish settler. Tantalise your taste buds at the Surf Shack Eatery for “quite possibly the best burgers in New Zealand” as dubbed by Lonely Planet.
Pack the sports paraphernalia because Omokoroa is the place to get active! Boats, jet skis, fishing tackle, kayaks, swimsuits, bikes, tennis racquets and golf clubs are all welcome in this harbourside haven. Pack a picnic and journey along the 17-kilometre Omokoroa to Tauranga cycle trail that meanders the edge of the Tauranga Harbour. Try the bird trail walk to learn about the unique migrations that take place in Omokoroa each year, plus enjoy views of the estuary and Kaimāī-Mamaku mountain range. Garden enthusiasts should take the ten-minute drive to the Te Puna Quarry Park for stunning vistas over Tauranga Moana, interactive garden sculptures for the kids, and botanical displays throughout the seasons.
Fishermen and women, shell collectors, bird watchers, and pie-lovers should journey to Maketū for a beach getaway that’s Kiwi as. The small seaside village also has a rich history. Almost 1,000 years ago, Maketū was the landing place of the Te Arawa waka and the start of one of the key Māori settlements in the Bay of Plenty. Walk the 6-kilometre trail around the town and look out for the signs that tell you the tales of the village’s past. Follow this with time well spent at the beach – surfcasting, pipi-picking, boating or simply enjoying fish and chips and an ice cream.
Pukehina Beach is calling surfers seeking solo waves and warm, east coast currents. With nothing between you and a long stretch of white-sand coast, Pukehina Beach is the perfect place to relax and make the most of the Coastal Bay of Plenty’s high sunshine hours. Grab the kids, the surfboards and the dog and enjoy a classic Kiwi holiday at the beach just like your Nana used to. Boaties will love the boat ramp access via the estuary to head out into the open ocean. If the sun and salt leave you thirsty at the end of another day at the beach, head to the Hippy Pippy Tavern for a refreshing drink.
Beachfront camping the way it used to be! That’s the catch cry of Thornton Beach, just northwest of Whakatāne. Thornton offers both a sandy beach with waves to play in and a calm estuary to stand-up paddleboard on. Drop a line off the jetty or surf cast into the waves to catch dinner. Visitors in the summertime should head to Blueberry Corner and Julian’s Berry Farm to pick berries and try a real fruit ice-cream made fresh with the fruit of your choosing.
The classic Kiwi paradise may be getting harder to find, but the Bay of Plenty knows how to keep it authentic so you can connect with what matters – it's in our nature.