new zealand dolphins bay of plenty
new zealand mt maunganui bay of plenty beach
New Zealand Pukehina beach bay of plenty
new zealand dolphins bay of plenty
new zealand mt maunganui bay of plenty beach
New Zealand Pukehina beach bay of plenty
A geothermal wonderland

Bay of Plenty

Experience stretches of white sand coastline, an abundance of lakes, waterfalls, lush native forests, and geothermal wonders in one of New Zealand's most unique regions. A year-round surfer's paradise with pristine beaches, over 180 miles of walking tracks to explore and hectares of orchards to discover.

Where should you visit the Bay of Plenty?

mountain head on small peninsula surrounded by blue ocean
Hike to see beautiful views of the Bay of Plenty
A single dolphin swimming on the surface of the water
Spot dolphins swimming off the coast


Situated on North Island, the Bay of Plenty is one of the most varied regions in New Zealand. From beaches, active volcanoes, islands, national parks, lakes, valleys, forests, orchards, and waterfalls. It has plenty to offer whether you are looking for something relaxing, adventurous, cultural, family-friendly, or even a few hidden gems.

You can paddle your way around Tauranga's coast, hike iconic Mount Maunganui, learn about Maori traditions or explore volcanic valleys in Rotorua.

Experience Maori tradition in Rotorua
© Miles Holden


Central to Auckland and just a 15-minute drive from the popular beach town of Mt Maunganui. Tauranga means 'place of rest or anchorage' in Maori. And while this harbour-side city in the Bay of Plenty region is a great place to relax, the stunning views and surrounding coastline may have you wanting to do more.

Spend days sailing, fishing, dolphin watching, or taking scenic walks around the area. For cycling enthusiasts, there is a huge range of cycling trails in and around the city.

Nearby in the Otanewainuku Forest, there are spectacular waterfalls and family-friendly walking tracks. A trip to the Bay of Plenty wouldn't be complete without the famous short walk up Mauao, spotting seals and orcas. Or an unforgettable evening kayaking on Lake McLaren lit up from the glow worms.

Cycle through mystical forests
© Miles Holden
A couple walking in a dense forest with sunlight streaming through
Go hiking in the Bay of Plenty
© Miles Holden

Mount Maunganui

Often referred to as the Mount by locals, it is considered one of the best beaches in New Zealand. Perhaps because the white sand surf beach stretches for as far as the eye can see. Mount Maunganui is a relaxed beach town with warm ocean waves and breezy beachside cafes. Think Australia's Gold Coast vibes but with the New Zealand charm.

It's the perfect place to kick back and let time fade away. Whether that means surfing the waves, dipping in the ocean or simply soaking up the sun. Watch people pass by or mingle with the locals. It doesn't matter as long as you step into Mount Maunganui's easygoing way of life and enjoy the slow pace.

View of Mount Maunganui
© Camilla Rutherford


Rotorua is surrounded by many beautiful, small lakes and is renowned for its geothermal activity and Māori culture. In Te Puia’s Whakarewarewa Valley, there are bubbling mud pools which are not only fascinating to see but also healthy for the body. Have fun smearing mud over your body and let the rich minerals cleanse and exfoliate your skin.

Cycle five minutes out of the centre of Rotorua city to the Pohutu Geyser in Te Puia. Experience an unforgettable sight as you watch the clouds of steam rise from the daily eruptions.

Adventure away from the crowds and you will find hidden gems such as waterfalls with thermal water, hot springs that can only be reached by small boats, and ancient forests. The area around the lakes and rivers is ideal for trout fishing and short walks.

Rejuvenate in volcanic mud pools
© Miles Holden
A lady bending down near a thermal river, surrounded by green shrubs| Zealand holiday
Discover thermal rivers


There is much more to see in the Bay of Plenty than just the volcanic areas. With over 125-kilometres of coastline, it is home to some of the most magnificent beaches in New Zealand.

With white sand and beautiful views, spending a day at any of these beaches will feel like a typical Kiwi summer: beaches, boogie boarding, surfing, and ice cream.

Visit Bay of Plenty's best beaches for sun, surf and swimming:

  • Mount Maunganui's Main beach
  • Ohope Beach
  • Papamoa Beach
  • Waihi Beach
  • Pilot Bay Beach
  • Pukehina Beach
  • Matakana Beach
Man holding a surf board, walking along the beach at sunset
Surf at some of New Zealand's best beaches
Walk on stretches of white sandy beach


The Bay of Plenty is surrounded by some breathtaking islands. Visible from any viewpoint, each island has its attractions but they all have one thing in common...idyllic beauty.

See dolphins, seals, and penguins, go snorkelling or diving, find the perfect wave to surf, explore the pine forests and orchards, and keep a keen eye out for native birds.

Spend a day exploring with a sunhat, snorkels and sunglasses:

  • Moutohora (Whale Island)
  • Matakana Island
  • Tuhua (Mayor Island)
  • Motiti Island
A school of dolphins in new zealand
Spot dolphins from the islands
© TravelEssence
Boat with people waving following dolphins | New Zealand holiday
Take a boat ride around the islands

Te Urewera

Te Urewera, west of Gisborne is a remote and rugged protected area that is popular with hikers. It lies between the Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay on the North Island of New Zealand and is famous for its lakes and forests.

Lake Waikaremoana is at the centre of many of the activities and is the starting point for several walks. Hike for a day or several days, taking in the stunning scenery and enjoying the peaceful silence. Spend long, quiet hours casting your line in legendary fishing spots. Or kayak along the most beautiful lakes.

Be sure to take your binoculars with you because Te Urewera protects the largest area of native forest remaining on the North Island and is home to nearly all species of New Zealand native birds.

Lush green rainforest with many gentle waterfalls | New Zealand nature
Te Urewera: discover beautiful waterfalls
© TravelEssence
Explore Te Urewera Rainforest | New Zealand nature
Trek through ancient forest


Bay of Plenty is home to 12 major lakes, each with its own unique story. They are a large part of the region's identity and carry historical, cultural and recreational importance to locals and tourists.

Lake Waikeremoana, located in the middle of the 225,000 hectare Te Urewera rainforest is one of the most beautiful wilderness experiences. It is the deepest lake on the North Island, created as a result of a volcanic eruption.

In the Māori language, Lake Waikeremoana means "sea of ​​rippling water" and it is a popular centre for outdoor activities. You can go boating, sailing, kayaking, fishing, and trekking.

View of lush green forest surrounding a beautiful lake
Explore one of the many lakes in the Bay of Plenty
Aerial view of a catamaran, people sunbathing on the boat and swimming in the lake
Swim and relax for the day
© Tourism New Zealand

There is a trail around the lake that you can walk for three to four days. From the highest point along the way, the Panekire Bluffs, you have fantastic views of the lake, forest, and mountains. To get there you must use the Te Urewera Rainforest Route between Rotorua in the north and Wairoa in the southeast.

All the lakes in the Bay of Plenty are worth visiting, here are some of the best:

  • Lake Tarawera
  • Lake Okareka
  • Lake Rotoiti (near Rotorua)
  • Lake Rotomahana
Kids jumping off a deck into the lake
Meet friends for a day of fun
Two people canoeing on a lake at sunset
Canoe around the lake to catch the sunset

Where to stay?

Off the grid glamping near Rotorua

Rotorua, New Zealand

Cabins on a hill overlooking native forests and farmland

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A beautiful lodge on the waterfront

Coromandel, New Zealand

Stroll white sand beaches, and take in views of the bay from Shakespeare Cliff Lookout.

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Discover a world beyond ordinary

At TravelEssence, we specialise in crafting custom-made holidays that take you off the beaten path and create memories to last a lifetime. We believe in connecting with the heart and soul of a place, introducing you to the locals who call it home. Engage in conversations with fascinating individuals who will share their stories, traditions, and way of life, leaving an indelible mark on your journey.