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There's never been a better time to give the gift of an experience

With much of 2020 lost to lockdowns, it feels amazingly good being able to get out on the ocean to spot wildlife, learn to surf, tour craft beer breweries or soar over Mauao (Mount Maunganui) in a helicopter – and most importantly, being able to do it all with friends and loved ones!

Here are some great Bay of Plenty experiences to gift your favourite people for Christmas:

Bay Explorer

1. MARINE WILDLIFE TOURS

We are lucky in the Bay of Plenty to have an amazing diversity of wildlife in our waters. Speeding out along the coastline, wind whipping your hair, you’ll see dolphins jumping and diving beside your boat, seasonal seabirds soaring on the air currents, penguins, seals, whales, sunfish, sharks, even orca or turtles!

These adventures suits the family or the wildlife enthusiast – kids and adults alike will love the commentary and interesting facts shared by the enthusiastic crews.

Bay Explorer and Dolphin Seafaris both offer fantastic tours departing from Tauranga, and Diveworks Charters offer similar trips from Whakatāne.

tauranga lodge helicopter

2. ADVENTURE HELICOPTERS

Your friends or loved ones will feel like superstars when boarding one of these choppers and being whisked away over stunning Bay of Plenty coastline and countryside.

With customisable packages, you can even create your own dream day: drop in by helicopter for a beverage or a fancy lunch at a number of helipad-equipped lodges, or stop in at Waihī Beach for a burger at the Surf Shack.

This gift would be ideal for couples, or groups of friends.

SkydiveTauranga

3. SKYDIVE TAURANGA

Tauranga has got to be one of the most beautiful places to tandem skydive. You get to cruise to altitude above Matakana Island and Mauao, surrounded by the glittering harbour and ocean, with Mt Ruapehu and even Mt Taranaki slowly coming into view.

This incredibly beautiful 20-minute scenic flight is just a bonus – because the sensation of jumping out the plane and falling at 200-kilometres-per-hour, and views of Mauao and Matakana Island slowly getting closer again, will completely take your breath away.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience suits couples who’d like a more daring date, or adrenaline junkie friends – or a parent with a bucket list!

The Aviator

4. VIRTUAL REALITY

Virtual Reality (VR) innovation is getting better and better – blow someone’s mind by introducing them to either The Aviator Experience or The Cave.

The Aviator lets them climb into a virtual cockpit of a military grade VR flight simulator, and virtually tear through foreign landscape, land on an aircraft carrier and even shoot down friends in other planes if they so want to – Tripadvisor reviews are through the roof about how lifelike the experience is.

The Cave provides a whole range of VR experiences, from roaming virtual worlds to racing at Bathurst, to Escape Rooms where you must solve a mystery to escape. This experience is great for dads and teens.

Surfing

5. SURF LESSON

Surfing is so beneficial so many ways: by gifting a surf lesson, you are gifting someone fitness, balance, water safety, stress relief, fun, a connection with the natural environment, and a way to stay young.

What’s more, the Bay has world class beaches to operate surf schools from, whether that’s Waihī Beach, Mauao or Pāpāmoa. This gift would suit anybody and everybody, from young kids through to active seniors.

East Coast Paddlers Mauao SUP Club go on adventures across the region Location Lake McLaren

6. EAST COAST PADDLER

This experience teaches you to paddle a stand-up paddle board (SUP) as well as row a waka ama (outrigger canoe) – with a strong focus on a connection with mana whenua (people of the land). You can explore the waters of the beautiful Mount Maunganui area, and even organise a private adventure such as a picnic in the middle of the ocean, or a paddle to an island. This experience would suit everybody.

Brewbus

7. BREWBUS

Give the gift of spending an afternoon sampling delicious Bay of Plenty craft beer – whether they’re a connoisseur, a beer novice, or just need a chance to kick back and have fun. Brewbus drives guests around the best breweries and bars, while the friendly guide provides great commentary on historic sites and places of interest (you’ll be surprised what you don’t know about your own region!). This would suit a group of friends, or a couple.

V8 Trikes

8. V8 TRIKES

Have you ever seen (or heard) those beautiful beasts, the V8 Chevrolet trikes, roaring around Mount Maunganui? These were designed and built in New Zealand, and their 5700cc Chevrolet motors have incredible power, low centre of gravity, amazing cornering and smooth riding. The speedy tours head to the beach, the highway, or to scenic lookouts – this experience would suit families or groups of friends.

Waimarino

9. WAIMARINO ADVENTURE PARK

A day out at Waimarino water and adventure park, 10 minutes from Tauranga city, is something the whole family will love. They can zoom down a hydroslide, catapult each other off a giant inflatable pillow, attempt the climbing wall, combat on the gladiator pole, swim, kayak, swing, dive and create some great family memories.

Riverbug on the Bay of Plentys longest river

10. RIVERBUG

Getting out on the whitewater in the local awa (rivers) provides that refreshing shot of adrenaline and excitement for that special someone. Riverbugging is an exciting and accessible way to experience whitewater: the small inflatable crafts are safe and easy to manoeuvre. This experience would suit families or groups of friends.

There are plenty more activities you could gift in our amazing Bay of Plenty – with a vibrancy of culture, beautiful natural areas, and real innovation, it’s easy to support local in these interesting times. Your friends and family will thank you for the memories!

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