The Bay of Plenty is a large bight in the northern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Warm in the summer and mild in the winter, this region is home to some of the most popular New Zealand vacations. The area stretches from the Coromandel Peninsula in the west to Cape Runaway in the east, providing a Bay of Plenty vacation with a lot of blue sky and blue sea providing a beautiful landscape for a Bay of Plenty vacation. Covering a wide expanse of coastal marine area, a Bay of Plenty vacation includes several islands, such as Mayor Island, Whale Island and White Island. The coastline is a mix of sandy and rocky, depending on which side of the compass you stand on. The region also contains many lakes, known collectively as the Lakes of Rotorua. While the coast is swarming with people in the summer, some people like to find adventure in quieter, higher places. Volcanic mountains such as Mount Manganui are a second home to many outdoorsy folk who like to hike and see the spectacular views from above the clouds. The Bay of Plenty is also covered in natural hot springs, as it is a geothermal region.

Bay of Plenty Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

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Pavilion Beachfront Accommodation Apartments
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Ridge Country Retreat
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Bay of Plenty Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in New Zealand

It is the fifth most populated region in New Zealand, and is one of the fastest growing regions. This increasing popularity may be due to the significant horticulture, forestry and tourism industries that continue to expand, promising employment opportunities that can’t be found in the larger cities.

It’s said that the first person to discover the Bay of Plenty was Takitimu and his crew, who travelled across from Hawaiki in 1290 AD. They landed their canoes at Mauao, now known as Mount Manganui, and were the first Maoris to call New Zealand home.

More than 400 years passed before the English explorer James Cook happened to come across the area. In 1769 he named it the Bay of Plenty, after James Cook noticed the abundance of food, and this fact hasn’t changed. With its plethora of restaurants, cafes, wineries and fruit farms, travellers will have a tough time writing an itinerary. The area is rich in culture as much as history, that’s for sure.

Tauranga is one of the main cities in the Bay of Plenty region, and here you can indulge in a wine tour, a farmers market or a cider factory. If dining and wining isn’t your cup of tea, there are so many marine activities you can take part in! If you’ve planned a New Zealand vacation in the summer, you can look forward to sailing, snorkelling, fishing or dolphin watching.

Rotorua is another big city in the region. Whereas Tauranga is a summer destination for relaxing and soaking in the sunset by the sea, Rotorua is home to all the hot pools and mud pools. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations, with its main cultural attraction being the Tamaki Maori Village. Here you can experience Maori culture, complete with a hangi (traditional feast cooked underground).

You can learn more about the region’s culture and early settlement history at the Historic Village on 17th, The Elms, or Tauranga Art Gallery. The Historic Village is a collection of original and replica buildings from yesteryear. You can experience these grand, charming buildings while engaging with locals who use the space to run shops or house community organisations.

Similar in architectural design, The Elms is one of New Zealand’s oldest heritage sites. This historic site was where early Maori and Pakeha (European) people would meet. The Tauranga Art Gallery on the other hand is a contemporary space that delivers exhibitions of both historical and modern day art. The best bit about all three of these attractions? They’re free!

The Bay of Plenty region is dotted with many landmarks. The Hairy Maclary sculptures along the Tauranga waterfront are small but loved. They represent the dog in New Zealand’s iconic childhood book - Hairy Maclary. The series was written by Lynley Dodd, one of the country’s best selling authors.

Drive a little further out and you can visit Kiwi360, an orchard designed to educate tourists about the fruit New Zealand is most associated with. Fun fact: Kiwifruit actually originate from China and were called Chinese gooseberries. When it made its way to New Zealand, the name was changed for marketing purposes!

If you want to see something more explosive, visit Wai-O-Tapu and see ‘Lady Knox Geyser’ pump up into the sky. The geyser erupts daily, so you’re guaranteed an impressive sight. This is New Zealand’s most popular geothermal park, and you can walk along gurgling mud pools, volcanic craters and hot, steaming lakes. Pack a picnic and make it a day trip!

The Polynesian Spa is a fantastic alternative for those who want to experience the therapeutic benefits of geothermal water in a safe environment. The acidic spa was dug out by hands in 1878, on the shores of Lake Rotorua. A catholic priest named Father Mahoney regularly bathed in this water and noticed the alleviation of his arthritis. Now the pool is called Priest’s Bath.

Another almost mystical spot is Lake Tarawera. It was once home to the eighth wonder of the world, before the area was ruined by the eruption of Mount Tarawera. The pink and white terraces were world-famous geothermal springs and geysers, descending 25 meters. The natural, healing water was cooler in the larger pools and hotter in the smaller. Although the terraces are gone, Lake Tarawera is a lush place for forest lovers and water breathers alike.

The Kaiate Falls is another spot worth checking out. Drive a short 30 minutes out of Tauranga and find the ideal spot to cool down in on hot day. Take a dip in the water hole, beneath the waterfall, or get those boots on and take a hike around one of the walking tracks.

If you’ve booked a ticket and you’re packing your bags, check out our list of New Zealand vacation rentals. From luxury accommodation to a more humble cottage, we’ve got rooms for everyone. The Bay of Plenty region has a warm, temperate climate, so pack light and start exploring.