After our smelly but enjoyable pit-stop in Rotorua we journeyed on to the beautiful Bay of Plenty region. The B.O.P. encompasses 259 kilometers (161 miles) of sunny and warm coastline stretching from the Coromandel Peninsula in the west to Cape Runaway in the east. The tourist attractions in the region are limited; however, if you have the time and the WOLOtude you can find some amazing hidden gems.
The surf city of Mt. Maunganui (mawn-ga-new-ee) was first on our to-do list. Similar to a southern California beach town, the “Mount” as the locals refer to it, had a beautiful white sand beach perfect for surfing, volleyball, boogie boarding, kayaking, wakeboard, etc. – anything beachy is a go here. Additionally, the town was packed with quirky shops, retailers, and a variety of fun and eclectic cafes.
Of course, the first thing we did when we arrived was explore the town’s namesake: Mt. Maunganui. Mt. Maunganui is an extinct volcano that rises abruptly out of the sea at the end of the town’s gorgeous beach (reminiscent of Tunnels Beach in Kaua’i, HI). “Mauao”, as the native Maori people call it, is littered with walking paths providing amazing views of the surrounding area. We opted to run along the track that circled the base of the volcano before making the 30-minute ascent straight up to the top. Catching our breath we took in the view – miles of sand stretching below and a shimmering bay dotted with islands for as far as the eye could see! [Note: Because of our run we decided to leave the camera behind in the van and therefore, most unfortunately, we do not have any photos to share! This just means you need to go see it for yourself!]
From the Mount we drove west to another B.O.P. favorite (and one of our Top 5 NZ Beaches): Waihi (why-hee) Beach. Waihi Beach is famous for the sun, surf, and sand making it a popular destination for vacationing Kiwis; however, we loved it for the multi-colored scallop shells, gigantic sand dollars, and amazing biodiversity found within the tide pools! After nearly stepping on an octopus, we were fortunate enough to observe not one, not two, but three adult octopi catching crabs for dinner (we still think the best part was the baby octopus we found swimming around – 2 inches long at best and bright blue)! Some alternative names for Waihi Beach could be “Hermit Crab Heaven”, “Tide Pool Pandemonium”, “Sea-life Metropolis”, “Sea Scallop Sands”, “Sand Dollar Sanctuary”, or our personal favorite, “WOLO Cove”.
– Go. Change your state of mind.
Song lyrics: Alternate Routes “Nothing More”
Next stop: The Coromandel Peninsula