Last-minute ideas for Valentine's Day in the Bay

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The day of love does not have to be all about fancy dinners, diamonds and teddy bears. The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend has compiled this list of top romantic dates to get out in the beautiful Bay with your significant other or with a special friend tomorrow.
Tauranga Harbour at sunset.
Tauranga Harbour at sunset.

1. Sailing in Tauranga Harbour
Cruising Tauranga Harbour, taking in picturesque Matakana Island and Pilot Bay, surrounded by deep blue ocean - what could be more peaceful and romantic? Maybe add a swim or a snorkel - perfect opportunities to frolic in the water with your beloved. Romance booster: sail at sunset or at night and be impressed by the twinkling lights of the city and the stars overhead.

2. Maketu and a unique dining experience
Head out of town to Maketu, where there's guaranteed to be a secluded bit of beach to claim for you and your lover. Take a long walk on the beach and for a very un-stereotypical Valentine's Day meal, have a Maketu Pie. Remember - romance is in the eye of the beholder.

Maketu Beach.
Maketu Beach.

3. Picnic on Matakana Island
Hire a kayak, small boat or jetski if you don't have any of your own and cross the Tauranga Harbour to the shores of Matakana Island where you could treat your beloved to a fresh picnic with one of the best views in the Bay.

Take a towel though, as it can get choppy in the channel. And remember to be a tidy Kiwi.

Aerial view of Matakana Island.
Aerial view of Matakana Island.

4. Climb Mauao with a sweet reward after
For the couple who plays together and works out together, grab your date and head to one of the most used and loved icons of our region. There are different tracks to take - whether to climb or just stick to the base track is up to you. Enjoy the meandering tracks and the different views and environments Mauao has to offer, topped (literally) with a breathtaking view of our beautiful city. When you make it back down, reward yourselves by sharing a romantic ice-cream from Copenhagan Cones.

Base track, Mauao.
Base track, Mauao.

5. Get lost in the bush at McLaren Falls
When we say 'get lost' we really mean escape the beaten track by exploring the beautiful walking tracks on offer at McLaren Falls. There are several to choose from which meander through the Kaimai Range. You don't have to be an expert either, with novice-friendly tracks pointed out on the information boards. After working up a sweat, you and your date can cool off with a quick dip at the lake or rock pools by the falls.

McLaren Falls.
McLaren Falls.

6. Hot pools
There are a variety of hot pools in Tauranga to soak and relax in the steamy water. Depending where you choose to go the view will add to the romantic ambiance as would a glass of champagne.

7. Fishing at sunset off Salisbury Wharf
If things have been a little hectic for you and your beloved, wind down by fishing off Salisbury Wharf at Mount Maunganui at sunset. Not only will you be able to appreciate the Tauranga Harbour in all its beauty at sunset, you might spot a passing cruise ship or young boys doing bombs off the wharf. If you're not successful in your fishing, you can make do by purchasing some fish and chips which is available on site.

Fishing at Salisbury Wharf
Fishing at Salisbury Wharf

8. Watersports
Couples that watersport together, stay together. Try your hands at surfing, windsurfing or kiteboarding down at the beach. Bond over the excitement in the surf, a thrill you'll both enjoy.

9. Karangahake Gorge
Depending on your fitness levels, the cycleway or walkway at Karangahake Gorge is a must-do for any adventurous couple. After spending the day exploring the old mines and history of the gorge, you and your date can enjoy a sumptuous lunch or dinner at one of the nearby restaurants such as the Ohinemuri Winery. For those who might want to enjoy a few wines, inquire about accommodation for a truly memorable weekend away.

Roses at Robbins Park.
Roses at Robbins Park.

10. Tauranga rose garden
Valentine's Day and flowers go together like a horse and carriage, so strolling around the rose gardens in Robbins Park, at the northern end of the Strand in Tauranga would be a very fitting date experience. Bring a blanket and a picnic and sit amongst the greenery overlooking Tauranga harbour.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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