Mount Maunganui is New Zealand's favourite summer holiday destination with a beautiful surf beach and safe harbour. The iconic Mauao, known as “the Mount” by locals stands at the entrance to the Tauranga Harbour and is in fact an extinct volcano cone. A spectacular white sand surf beach stretches as far as the eye can see in one direction and a beautiful sheltered inner harbour, including Pilot Bay, with the city of Tauranga across the water in the other. There are many walks around the base and up to the top of the mount where the views are fantastic.

Mt Maunganui 

Te Puke- Kiwifruit Capital of the World, made famous by a small fruit originally called the Chinese gooseberry and now known worldwide as a kiwifruit. Lush kiwifruit orchards with lots of shelterbelts dot the landscape and line the roads in all directions. Stop at Kiwi360, a kiwifruit theme park, tour an orchard in the kiwikarts and try the relatively new Gold Kiwifruit (a lot sweeter) and the new kiwiberry. Have coffee and a light meal at the café.  www.kiwifruitcountry.co.nz/ Next door to Kiwi360 is the Te Puke Vintage Auto Barn, also well worth a visit with over 90 vintage & classic cars to check out.

Back in the car and heading east a few hundred meters and off to the left the next road takes you down to Maketu, a small seaside settlement where surfers & mussel lovers gather. In season the Kaituna cut (river mouth) has dozens of white baiters & their nets trying their luck at catching the delicacy. This area is also a favorite for swimming, boating and fishing. Famous in New Zealand and an icon of the area also are Maketu Pies. Originally made by a local lady and sold in her store they are now sold by the thousands across the country.

Just past the Maketu turn off is a roadside fruit & vege shop called Fruitlands. It is on the right hand side of the road so be careful crossing the highway. It’s an excellent place to pick up cheap, top quality produce with lots of in-season fruit available. They also make fabulous real fruit ice-cream, where they put a frozen fruit of your choice and a scoop of ice-cream into a type of blender and out the bottom and into a cone comes a tasty swirl of real fruit ice-cream!

Moving right along, the next country town you come to is Paengaroa. Here you will find Comvita the home of natural health in NZ. There is a visitor’s centre where you can check out the magic of the honey bee. Honey and health products are also available from their store. Located in the township also is a craft shop with lots of NZ souvenirs and clothing, an antique shop and a number of small cafes.

Next stop is Longridge Fun Park where you can go jet boating on the Kaituna River or self-drive a 4WD vehicle up hill, down dale, through mud and water. This area is known as “the junction” and there are many activities that can be done in the area. Check out this website-  www.thejunction.co.nz

After leaving Paengaroa the road winds through native bush and pine forest and before you know it you have reached Okere Falls on Lake Rotoiti and you are now entering the Rotorua district. This is where the Kaituna River leaves the lake and heads for the coast. Here there is white water rafting; kayaking, glow worms and numerous walks for you too do before heading on through to RotoVegas!

Lake Rotoiti  Pilot Bay