EXPLORE THE BAY BY FOOT
If you love exploring places on foot (or you just love walking), you'll be glad to know that there are plenty of cool short walks all over the Bay of Plenty. Whether you only want to do a short one-hour walk or something slightly longer, there are plenty of options for everyone.
Enjoy stunning views of the upper harbour, Kaimāī Ranges and the ocean coastline when you walk these tracks. It’s in our nature to celebrate our unique heritage and there are several pā sites dating back hundreds of years within this 128-hectare scenic reserve.
Duration: Anzac Bay to Shelly Bay (30-minutes one way); headland car park to Te Ho pā site (45-minutes return); Anzac Bay-headland loop via Shelly Beach (75-minutes return).
Start at the car park at the end of Bowentown peninsula.
Hot Tip: Anzac Bay and Shelly Bay are safe, sheltered swimming spots so take togs, towels and a picnic with you for an awesome day out.
OROKAWA SCENIC RESERVE
This spectacular coastal track takes you over the headland and down to pōhutukawa-fringed Orokawa Bay. Enjoy panoramic ocean views, lush bush and birdsong along the way. Explore several historic pā sites and old gold mine tunnels.
Duration: Waihī Beach to Orokawa Bay (45-minutes) or push onto William Wright Falls (another 1.5-hours return) or Homunga Bay (2-hours return).
Start: At the northern end of Waihī Beach (avoid high tide and strong swells).
Hot Tip: Wear sturdy walking or running shoes (not jandals) as it’s hilly in places. There’s no toilets or drinking water facilities, and Orokawa’s beach gets deep very quickly so don’t swim here. But trust us, the views are totally worth the trip.
Walk through regenerating native forest until you reach Tuahu - one of the largest kauri trees in our region. This old Māori route was used as a bridle track in the 1890s and adventurous walkers can explore other day walks and more challenging tracks in the Kaimāī Mamaku Conservation Park.
Duration: 20-minutes one way.
Start: Near the end of Hot Springs Road, 8-kilometres south of Katikati.
Hot Tip: Sapphire Springs Thermal Pools are just up the road so treat yourself to a relaxing soak afterwards.
TE REREKAWAU (KAIATE FALLS)
Take your kids on an adventure to see cascading waterfalls and explore this bush-filled ravine. Admire the upper series of falls before continuing downhill to the main lower waterfall. There are several loop tracks which intersect with one another.
Duration: Up to 60-minutes return.
Start: Off Kaiate Falls Road (follow the signposts from Welcome Bay Road).
Hot Tip: This track is well-formed but steep in some places. Take your camera as there are plenty of Instagram opportunities to be had.
MAUAO (MOUNT MAUNGANUI)
No trip to the Coastal Bay of Plenty would be complete without exploring Mauao. The base track is an easy 45-minute stroll and offers stunning scenery (and sometimes marine life!). The hike to the top is about 30-minutes; it's steep but the panoramic views are well worth it.
Duration: base track: 45-minutes; summit: 30-minutes (approximately).
Start: Marine Parade.
Hot tip: Definitely have a camera or your phone handy to take photos, and watch out for seals and little blue penguins frolicking on the rocks.
Retrace the footsteps of our early Māori settlers by climbing to the summit of the Papamoa Hills. The 360° view is breath-taking and gives you a different perspective on our coastline than from the top of the Mount.
Duration: 60-minutes return.
Start: At the car park off Poplar Lane (off State Highway 2, 17-kilometres south of Tauranga).
Hot Tip: You’ll need to be reasonably fit as it’s steep in places. Take a hat and/or jacket with you as this track’s exposed to the sun and wind. Public toilets are available in the car park.
WHIRINAKI TE PUA-A-TĀNE CONSERVATION PARK
Towering trees, rushing rivers, diverse habitats and a fascinating past combine to make this one of New Zealand's most remarkable forests. Listen to native birds while walking to a canyon, a rain-fed lagoon or the Whirinaki waterfall.
Duration: Short walks range from 45-minutes to 4-hours return.
Start: River Road car park, past Minginui village (100-kilometres inland from Whakatāne).
Hot Tip: Book a DoC hut, pitch a tent or stay at the Whirinaki Recreation Camp (five-kilometres from Minginui) to make the most of your trip.
NGĀ TAPUWAE O TOI
Known as the ‘Footprints of Toi’, this walkway captures the essence of Whakatāne and includes historic pā sites, superb native forest, spectacular pōhutukawa stands, unsurpassed coastal views, seabird colonies, forest birds, plantation forest and rural vistas.
Duration: 16-kilometre loop (five to seven hours) but can be broken into smaller sections (one to three hours).
Start: From Seaview Road in Whakatāne (full track) or the Ōhope Scenic Reserve (shorter tracks).
Hot Tip: Walk in a clockwise direction if you’re going to do the whole 16 kilometres as the track is much harder going the other way. If you walk from Whakatāne to Ōhope and are too tired to return, catch a bus from outside the Ōhope Beach Haven store.
Located just south of Tauranga and Te Puke is the Ōtanewainuku Forest, which is not only home to some great family-friendly walking tracks and spectacular waterfalls, but it is also home to the North Island Brown Kiwi (lovingly cared for and protected by the Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust).
Duration: varied depending on which walk you choose to do.
Start: 667 Mountain Road, Ōropi.
Hot tip: pack your swimming gear! If you walk through to Whataroa Falls, you might want a refreshing dip in the pool at the bottom of the falls. As always, swim to your ability and be aware of your surroundings.