Kia ora: Te Puke

Elisabeth Easther visits the town where goodness grows

Kiwi 360 hosts a giant kiwifruit. Photo / Supplied
Kiwi 360 hosts a giant kiwifruit. Photo / Supplied

Origin of name:
Te Puke means The Hill, and refers to its hill-side location near the Papamoa Hills.

Population:
There are 6700 people in the town (with a spike of 10,000 during kiwifruit season, April to June) and 17,000 in the wider district.

Where is it:
In the Western Bay of Plenty, 28km from Tauranga.

Town slogan:
It was "Kiwifruit Capital of the World" but will soon change to "Te Puke - Goodness Grows Here".

The town's mascot:
The giant kiwifruit at Kiwi 360.

Best local website:
tepuke.co.nz

Best reason to stop:
Anything to do with kiwifruit, and also to experience a country town. A four-lane highway is being built, which means heavy traffic will bypass the town, making visits even more pleasant.

Best place to take the kids:
The recently opened Jubilee Park, which is great fun for families to enjoy from dawn to dusk.

Best place for a drink:
Molly O'Connors Irish Bar and Restaurant. It has an outdoor courtyard, great food and the ribs are amazing.

Best food:
Veseys Indian is highly thought of, while the Trading Post at Paengaroa is a popular bistro and pizza joint.

Most famous locals:
Chiefs flanker Tanerau Latimer. Also, racing legend Denny Hulme, New Zealand's Formula 1 world champion in 1967, was born here.

Most prominent local industry:
Kiwifruit; second would probably be freezing works, specifically Affco.

Best flat white:
One Step Beyond - their fluffies have sprinkles on top to delight younger visitors. World of Taste also does a fine cuppa.

Best bakery:
The Bakehouse does a fine pie, ditto Maketu Pies.

Best art gallery:
Constables Art Gallery. Beside the gallery are two old cells from the Te Puke police station; one is used by artists and the other provides a sneak look into the cramped conditions of prisoners back in the day.

Best walk and views:
Take a hike up to the Papamoa Hills Archaeological Complex for stunning views of the Bay of Plenty coastline, 224m above sea level. Humans are thought to have been resident here as early as 1650AD. Reasonable fitness is required.

Locals take visitors from abroad to ...
Kiwi 360, which tells the kiwifruit story, and the shop, cafe and courtyard are fab. And where else in the world can you be trundled about in a kiwifruit kart? Also keep your eyes peeled for Experience Comvita, the honey visitor experience centre redeveloped to open in October.

Best swim:
Maketu Seaside Village, 15 minutes down the road, as the local Te Puke Pools are closed.

Fabulous item of wildlife:
Otanewainuku is a natural kiwi habitat run by a community conservation trust with a range of fabulous bush walks and kiwi experiences.

Otanewainuku is a natural kiwi habitat run by a community conservation trust with a range of fabulous bush walks and kiwi experiences.

Brush with fame:
Te Puke was the destination of the fourth leg of the United States reality show The Amazing Race 13, which was filmed in 2008.

Thank you to Graeme Crossman of Kiwi 360, and Mark Boyle from Te Puke Economic Development Group, for taking the time to share their passion for Te Puke.

- NZ Herald

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