A Bay of Plenty classic. If you had to choose anywhere for a walk in the Bay of Plenty you’d be hard pushed to choose better than Mount Maunganui’s iconic mountain. On a clear day, the views from the summit spread out for miles in all directions. It’ll take between 30 minutes and 45 minutes to reach the summit and you’ll need a reasonably good level of fitness. A great alternative is the circuit around the base with views of the open ocean and Matakana Island.
McLaren Falls Park
A beautiful oasis all year round but autumn is possibly the most stunning time to visit McLaren Falls. Popular for camping, fishing and kayaking as well as walks, it is also home to one of the best botanical collections of trees in the North Island. And in autumn, their changing colours are spectacular. The Waterfall Track is a highlight of the park and a trip after dark will reward visitors with a glimpse of glow worms on either side of the track. This short stroll is easy and perfect for families.
Papamoa Hills Regional Park
Drive out of Tauranga on SH 2 towards Te Puke and you’ll find this hiker’s paradise in the hills behind Papamoa. The gates are open daily from 6:30am until 7pm in winter and until 9pm in summer. The farm looks out to the Pacific Ocean, offering breath-taking views right along our coastline from Mount Manganui to Whakatane. It’ll take you about 45 minutes to complete the main walk from the carpark to the trig station but there are also several other trails throughout the park to enjoy. The park is also a working farm so please leave any gates the way you found them.
Summerhill farm, also on the Papamoa Hills is available to the public to use for both mountain biking and walking. It’s a beautiful spot for a walk amongst the different aged forests with a variety of exotic and native trees, but the farm is even more popular for it’s top mountain biking trails. If you have a child then you could even take him or her if you here if you have a kids bike seat, such as the one by Do Little NZ. Whatever you choose, you’ll appreciate the amazing views over the Bay of Plenty. The trails are open 7 days a week from dawn until dusk, with casual entry by donation.
Katikati Bird Gardens
Set directly on the edge of the inner Tauranga harbour, just south of Katikati, these gardens have a special atmosphere all their own. The 1.5km of pathways are wheelchair friendly and easy to navigate. With water-lilly ponds, mature trees from around the world, flower gardens, natural wetlands and birdlife galore, these gardens are a great place to visit all year round and much loved by families and bird enthusiasts alike.
For the more adventurous, Otanewainuku offers 1200 hectares of virgin NZ forest. Situated between Tauranga and Rotorua the forest here boasts a treasure chest of rare and endangered birds supported by active community groups. A small shelter, information board and toilets are found next to the car park on Mountain Rd. Walking tracks through the forest also start from here.
If you’re looking for a good walk or place to ride your fixed gear bike on Tauranga city’s doorstep, a spin round Waikareao estuary is perfect. Suitable for all ages, the 9.5km circuit is a mixture of boardwalks and gravel and sealed paths and the continuously changing terrain through tidal mangrove and wetlands makes this walkway interesting. There are some seats along the way, information about the wildlife and flora and you can detour off for a break at some great cafes on the way around.