There is arguably no other region that fits its namesake more than the Bay of Plenty.
The region's biggest city Tauranga has gone through a massive boom in recent years and enjoyed an influx of quality eateries and shops but has still maintained its pristine natural landscape and iconic attractions.
There is no better place for adrenaline junkies, fitness freaks, water lovers and shoppers alike than the Bay.
But what are the top 10 things visitors to the region should do?
It is no mistake that climbing this 232m high summit is the top of our list. The panoramic views of the Bay of Plenty area are truly breathtaking. The climb can be tackled at any time of the day, but going at dawn or dusk to catch a glorious sunset or sunrise will not be something you regret. You could even pack a picnic and enjoy a feed while you're at it. If you're not in the mood for packing some kai, there is also the option of completing the hike then heading to a nearby eatery for a well-deserved meal. Be sure to wear clothes you're willing to get sweaty in. The walk takes about 40 minutes and requires a good level of fitness.
Pack a picnic and visit freshwater swimming holes
While Mount Maunganui and Mauao might be one of the main attractions of Tauranga, don't let the beauty of the beach blind you to the other swimming options. Hop, step, and jump across rocks to have a dip in the Poripori or McLaren Falls swimming holes, both are in the lower Kaimāī Range.
Get the adrenaline pumping
If strolling about the beach is too mellow for you, fear not for the Bay has heaps of activities to get the blood pumping. You can catch the surfing buzz by taking a lesson at any of the surf schools along the Mount Maunganui main beach. Waimarino Adventure Park offers a water trampoline, New Zealand's only Kayak slide, kayaking, a gladiator pole, Tarzan swings, plus heaps more. Blokarting at Baypark is another great option for the whole family. Children from as young as 8 can have a go and it is super easy to learn. Last but certainly not least, you could head to the TECT All Terrain Park and unleash your inner child on this playground for grown-ups. Airsoft, clay target shooting, paintball, running, walking and mountain biking trails are just some of the activities on offer. You can also bring your furry friends to the equestrian riding trails and dog park.
Take a day trip to Whakatāne ...
There is plenty to do in Whakatāne so keep this on your list. It is about an hour drive from Tauranga and you can take a tour of Moutohora (Whale Island), visit Julian's Berry Farm to pick fresh berries or enjoy a real fruit ice cream, or go on a Kiwi Night Walk and catch the sound of kiwi calling and rustling through native bush. Take a walk on the Ngā Tapuwae o Toi walkway which connects Whakatāne township and Ōhope Beach and grab a meal or go for a dip at Ōhope Beach.
... or to Waihī
Waihī township and the nearby Waihī Beach are about 40 minutes' drive from Tauranga and there are a range of options to keep you entertained. Waihī Beach offers upmarket eateries and shops and a gorgeous beach. You can also pack a picnic and head along the Orokawa Bay walkway for a stroll. Once you're done there, you can head on to the quaint Waihī township. From there, you can go for a walk or bike alongside the Ohinemuri River on the Karangahake Gorge walkway. Take a nostalgic train trip in the Tramway Ride Museum and the Goldfields Railway before checking out the local history on display at the Waihī Arts Centre and Museum. You can also delve into the ins and outs of gold mining at the Gold Discovery Centre and take a walk along the Waihī Martha Mine Pit Rim Walkway.
Walk it off
There is no shortage of walks to embark on in Tauranga. The Daisy Hardwick/Waikareao Estuary walk is a 9km walking and cycling loop suitable for all ages. It takes you over boardwalks and through native bush. The Mauao base track is a pleasant 3.4km stroll alongside crashing ocean waves and ocean views. You could also stroll along Mount Maunganui beach to Moturiki Island (also known as Leisure Island). This one is suitable for kids with heaps of rock pools to explore. The Pāpāmoa Hills Regional Park rewards its walkers with incredible views overlooking the area. The Kaiate Falls walk is a trek to a beautiful waterfall. If that is not enough, check out the volunteer-run Te Puna Quarry Park and pack a picnic lunch to munch on after you have explored the ponds, gardens, butterflies and panoramic views.
Shop til you drop
Tauranga has been treated to an explosion of shopping options in recent years. From the boutique and quirky Our Place to the glitzy Tauranga Crossing, there is an option for everyone. While Tauranga is now home to big-name brands like Mecca and H&M, you shouldn't overlook Sisters, Augustine, Chaos and Harmony and Repertoire along with the range of quality second-hand shops like Recycle Boutique, Talluahs and Wear Together.
Eat your heart out
Even with all the physical activities on offer, it will be a challenge to not head home a couple of kilograms heavier with the bounty of eateries on offer. From the wholesome but delicious sweet treats and sandwiches on offer at Love Rosie Bakery to the delicious Vietnamese-inspired Rice Rice Baby, there is something for every taste bud. You can count on a quality feed at upmarket cafes Little Guy, Eddie + Elspeth and Henry and Ted. For a more humble but delicious option, Zest Cafe in Greerton has your back. If you're after something a bit more glitzy, Harbourside and Alpino restaurants are the places for you, but if you want to keep it simple, fish and chips on the beach will never go astray.
Get cultured at the Historic Village
Lose yourself in the gorgeous old character buildings with cobblestone paving at the Historic Village. History nerds can also get their fix with the heritage displays and shopaholics will be satisfied with the range of quirky shops, including a vinyl shop and second-hand clothing stores. The Village is also home to a theatre, art galleries, live music venues, and a tattoo studio. For some dangerously good donuts, Whipped Baker Cafe has you sorted.
Take a wander down memory lane at the Classic Flyers Aviation Museum. Lose yourself in the museum which boasts thousands of items that display our rich aviation history, including some of NZs best Classic and Vintage aircraft along with static and hands-on displays. Enjoy a meal in the themed cafe afterwards, or for the more adventurous, head over to SkyDive Tauranga at Tauranga Airport to feel the rush during a tandem skydive.
THE LOCAL LOWDOWN
You'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of Tauranga than Brian Kelly. Kelly, who is also the Coast Breakfast Host in The Bay of Plenty and Coromandel, moved here in 1975 for work and has loved every minute of it.
When I moved here I fell in love with the place. I love being around and on the water.
There are beautiful beaches, the climate's great - it ticks all the boxes.
The city has changed a hell of a lot since I moved here. The change is unbelievable.
Back then, there was one licensed restaurant and three grotty hotels on the strand.
Climbing Mauao to take in the vistas is on the top on my list of things to do in the area. The climb and view never get old.
I also recommend driving up to take in the views from the Minden lookout.
You get a totally different perspective on the Bay from up there.
On the way down, I suggest stopping into one of the many fine eateries in Te Puna for a meal or a drink.
Aside from the brilliant views, the region is lucky to have all the mountain bike trails such as the Daisy Hardwick Harbour trail around the inner Tauranga Estuary.
I also enjoy the Kopurererua Valley reserve trail which starts near the Tauranga CBD at 17th Avenue near the Historic Village.
It can take you all the way out to the Lakes, with no roads to cross. You can stop off at a bar and have a beer, then ride back all the way back on the other side.
They're used regularly by a lot of people. They're great.
Even when the sun isn't shining bright, there is still lots to do.
Tauranga residents and visitors alike are treated to a number of hot pools in Mount Maunganui, Welcome Bay and Bethlehem along with wonderful cafes and restaurants and movie theatres.
We're spoilt for choice.
Listen to NewstalkZB from 1pm today to be in to win two flights to Tauranga flying Air New Zealand. Ts&Cs apply.
Read the whole series at nzherald.co.nz/GoNZ