When Captain Cook sailed by this region on the east coast of the North Island in New Zealand in 1769, he aptly named it the Bay of Plenty for the abundance of resources it seemed to offer. Today, it is one of the fastest-growing parts of the country.
Bay of Plenty Size and Location
The Bay of Plenty encompasses a 100-kilometer sweep of sandy coastline on the eastern side of the North Island, between Coromandel to the north and Eastland to the southeast. It also takes in Rotorua and impressive areas of forest inland but it is the coastal regions that hold the greatest concentrations of people and activities.
Bay of Plenty Major Centers
The region divides roughly into a western and eastern half. The western district has as it's center the city of Tauranga, the location of one of New Zealand's major ports. Tauranga is a thriving city with excellent dining, entertainment and shopping. Neighbouring Mount Maunganui is famed for its beach, which plays host to national sporting events that include surfing, surf lifesaving and beach volleyball.
Whakatane is the main town to the eastern end of the Bay of Plenty. It is much smaller than Tauranga and officially holds the title as having the most sunshine hours per year of any place in New Zealand. Steeped in Maori history, Whakatane is also the departure point for trips to New Zealand's largest volcano, White Island. Just over the hill is the popular seaside town of Ohope, with its eleven kilometer stretch of beautiful beach.
The other major population center in the Bay of Plenty is Rotorua. This is deservedly one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand, world renowned for its displays of natural geothermal activity and local Maori culture.
Bay of Plenty Climate
The Bay of Plenty enjoys one of the warmest, sunniest and driest climates in New Zealand. Sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds by the mountain ranges through the middle of the country, it is a major orchard area, particularly for New Zealand's popular export, kiwifruit.
Bay of Plenty History
The first Maori are believed to have arrived in the Bay of Plenty more than a thousand years ago. By the time of Captain Cook's arrival the region was well populated by the Maoris. From then until the 1870s it was the scene of many tribal battles and some of the most significant conflicts with Europeans in the country at that time.
From the early twentieth century, the establishment of dairy farming as a major industry brought settlement and prosperity. With better transport links to Auckland, the region established a boom in agriculture which continues to this day. Tourism is also now one of the major activities.
Things to Do in the Bay of Plenty
Fishing: Fishing is very popular in the lakes and rivers in the Bay of Plenty. Deep-sea fishing off the coast is world class.
Watersports: swimming, surfing, sailing, boating, diving - all great along every part of the coast.
Walking, hiking and tramping: along the coast or through the many park areas.
Historical and cultural tours: Throughout the region there are museums and historical sites documenting the history of Maori and European in this historic part of New Zealand.
Visiting White Island (Whakaari) or Whale Island (Moutohora): White Island is a large and spectacularly active volcano, 48 kilometers offshore. Whale Island is rich in history of both Maori and European occupation.