The abundance of organised recreational opportunities located within Rotorua is staggering - Sport Bay of Plenty is in the process of updating its annual Get Involved Activity Directory and within Rotorua alone, there are 141 activities offering 322 classes per week. That's 46 options each day, giving little reason not to have a go and get involved!

On the other hand, drive 20km from the city to rural communities, such as Mamaku, Mourea and Horohoro, or further afield to Rotoma, Waikite or Reporoa, and your options for organised physical activity become increasingly restricted.

The isolation of living in a rural location, leaving the hustle and bustle behind, is often the appeal - there's nothing quite like the relaxing surrounds of Mother Nature - and opportunities to be active do exist; they just require a little more self-motivation to get going.

You could take a stroll in the bush or out on the farm, start your day with a yoga sun salutation, or enjoy kayaking on the lake, submerging yourself in the tranquillity provided by your settings.


As these activities require more individual 'up and go', as opposed to the motivation experienced when attending an exercise class at a specific day, time and place, it can be harder to get active on your own terms.

The results of the 2014 Active New Zealand Survey support this, and found that when compared to those living in urban settings, rural residents were less likely to participate in physical activity and did so at a rate of once a fortnight or less.

This rate is significantly lower than the Ministry of Health recommendation for adults to be active 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and poses the question: How can we help support change?

As we speak, our recreation advisers have started making contact, connections and networks around the Bay of Plenty with a handful of our surrounding rural communities to support increased recreation opportunities.

In some cases, progress is slow, but this wasn't unexpected as it takes time to build relationships, establish trust and find a community champion willing to put their hand up and spearhead an activity.

This is a critical element for Sport Bay of Plenty as the relationships between residents in rural communities are strong and we want to support this, to ensure activities are delivered by locals for locals.

An achievement of this process is the start of a regular Zumba class at Lake Rotoma, led by Zumba instructor Ike Urlich. Classes are held Mondays and Fridays, 6pm, at the Rotoma Community Hall for $5. Come along, shake your booty and have fun on a cold winter's night!

If you live rurally, have an interest in increasing recreation within your community or know of someone with the skills or training to start a regular class, we would love to hear from you.

Lauren Atkinson is Sport Bay of Plenty's central Bay of Plenty recreation advisor. You can contact her on (07) 348 4125 ext 603 or