Discover the Bay's natural beauty
As you travel around Te Moananui ā Toi (the Coastal Bay of Plenty), you'll discover eco-sanctuaries and stunning nature reserves, many of which are kept in pristine condition by passionate local volunteers.
Ōtanewainuku, Kaimāī Mamaku Conservation Park, Whirinaki Te Pua-ā-Tane Conservation Park, Tuahu Kauri Track
By Car (to Tauranga):
From Auckland: 2 hours and 45 minutes
From Hamilton: 1 hour and 30 minutes
From New Plymouth: 4 hours and 15 minutes
From Napier: 3 hours and 45 minutes
From Wellington: 6 hours and 30 minutes
According to local Māori legend, Ōtanewainuku is a chiefly mountain. His name means “the many waters that spring forth from the domain of Tāne-mahuta – overseer of the forest” or “the mountain of the parting waters, where the clouds meet the land, and the rain leaves the sky.”
There are three beautiful walks you can do on Ōtanewainuku; the easy 45-minute return Rimu Loop Bush Walk, the moderate two-hour return Whataroa Waterfall track or climb to the very top on the 1.5-hour return Summit Track.
While you spend time in this special forest, just 30 minutes' drive from Tauranga, keep an eye (and an ear!) out for North Island Bush Robin, fantails, tui. You may even catch a kōkako calling.
Ōtanewainuku is also home to many kiwi and pest management is handled by the dedicated volunteers from the Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust. Due to the presence of kiwi, dogs are not permitted on Ōtanewainuku.
How to get there: Take Ōropi Road south from Tauranga and turn onto Mountain Road just past Ōropi. There is a small car park, public shelter, toilet and picnic area by the road.
30 minutes' from central Tauranga.
Tuahu Kauri Track
The Kaimāī Mamaku Conservation Park covers an area of approximately 37,000 hectares and features over 350 kilometres of walking and tramping tracks.
Please note this track is closed for kauri disease protection work. Find more information here.
One of those trails, the Tuahu Track, winds through native forest featuring young kauri rickers and juvenile rimu trees. The full walk is five hours one way but just 20 minutes into the trail, turn left onto a side track that leads to a platform surrounding one of the largest kauri trees in the Bay of Plenty.
The Bay of Plenty region is currently the only region in New Zealand that does not have Kauri dieback disease. Please ensure your footwear is clean, especially if you have been walking in other areas of New Zealand, and stick to the track.
How to get there: The track begins at the end of Hot Springs Road, just south of Katikati off State Highway Two.
How to get involved: The Aongatete Forest Project is a volunteer organisation that restores the forest, birds and invertebrates in the Kaimāī Ranges. They run a volunteer Wednesday on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month. Check out their website to find out more.
Whirinaki Te Pua-ā-Tane Conservation Park
A hike into the Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park is worth the time it takes to get to this remote natural area. One of New Zealand's most significant forests, the Whirinaki is valued as a taonga (treasure) containing the living children of Tāne-mahuta, the Māori god of the forest. Local iwi (tribe) Ngāti Whare is the active kaitiaki (guardian) of the park working with the Department of Conservation to protect the natural, cultural, and historic resources for the benefit and well-being of future generations of Aotearoa New Zealand and visitors.
There are guided tours, cycling trails, walks and longer tramps; whatever way you choose to experience this magical place, you'll leave feeling awe-inspired and wanting to come back for more!
Guided tours are run by:
Just north of Tauranga is Te Puna, a charming little town that is home to excellent foodie experiences and a very special reserve.
The l'Anson Reserve reserve was gifted to QEII National Trust by Keith and Takiko I’Anson and it has been lovingly restored by Tauranga Forest and Bird and passionate volunteers. Today, the reserve boasts a young forest canopy, native trees, and an artificial lake with picnic table.
Take the easy bush walk around the lake or bring your well-behaved dog off leash for a run in the open-grassed areas.
How to get involved: The Friends of I’Anson Reserve hold regular weeding bees and members of the public are welcome to join. For more information about the weeding bees, get in touch with QEII Regional Representative for Western Bay of Plenty, Rob Fraser or visit the Facebook page.
Watch this video by Bryan Winters on how the volunteers keep the reserve thriving.
Te Puna Quarry
The Te Puna Quarry Park is a special and unique destination with walking tracks, gardens, picnic lawns and huge sculptures – all with panoramic views over the Bay.
The park has been brought to life by passionate volunteers who have regenerated the area with planting and care, and continue to care for it today.
Entry is free but there is a donation box at the gate and donations are welcome and needed.
See the sculptures, the gardens and native bush at this special park in Te Puna.
Dunes are crucial to the Bay’s beaches. They provide homes for many native species and they work as a buffer between the land and the sea. Without them, we’d lose our beautiful sandy beaches and leave our communities vulnerable to storm waves and coastal erosion. If you love spending time at our beaches, consider taking part in one of the regular dune planting sessions run by Coast Care Bay of Plenty. This volunteer organisation could always use an extra hand, and it’s a great way to meet the locals. Stay in touch with their events on Facebook.