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A visit to the North Island of New Zealand would not be complete without a trip to the Bay of Plenty.
New Zealand’s North Island has so many great towns and things to see and do. The Bay of Plenty region is renowned for its beautiful beaches, interesting towns along with kiwi fruit farms. Whakatane is the base for accessing New Zealand’s only active marine volcano and is situated about one and a half hours drive, through some picturesque countryside, from Rotorua.
For my visit to the Bay of Plenty, I had booked a camping site right on the beach.
Murphy’s Holiday Camp is near Matata, on the way to Whakatane. I’d looked this place up online and its story had me hooked.
I really had no plans for my Bay of Plenty trip except for enjoying the sunshine and throwing myself in the ocean. Murphy’s camping grounds was the perfect place to do just that. Murphy’s has been around for over 50 years. It is a popular spot for locals to holiday with well maintained and clean facilities. My hosts and owners, Beck and Shane, were welcoming and I was soon shown to my camp site with front row views over the ocean. No wonder people vacation here year after year.
After a great day of relaxation, frolicking in the ocean and sleeping right on its edge, I woke up early for a day of getting lost around the Bay of Plenty.
After a short drive and a few stops to check out the sights, I soon found myself in Whakatane and falling in love with its charm. I was mesmerized by the beautiful blue bay and interesting geography that surrounds it.
Whakatane is known for its sunshine, swimming and surfing. Here you’ll find local culture, great food and plenty of walking and hiking tracks. It’s also known as a base for a visit to the active volcano, White Island, which is about 50 km out to sea. For those who want to see and explore White Island, tour operators will take you there, by launch or helicopter.
A visit to Whakatane wouldn’t be complete without a walk along the waterfront and a stroll around the centre of town. Great little cafes and shops line the streets, art, good coffee and great food.
Time spent at the Whakatane Museum and Arts is time well spent. If you want the chance to learn about Kiwis, the Whakatane Kiwi Trust conducts night walks where you’ll learn all about this interesting bird. Around this part of the Bay of Plenty you’ll also find great wineries and cellar doors. Try a locally brewed beer at the Mata Brewery tasting room.
Although I hadn’t planned to go, finding Whakatane was a highlight of my North Island Bay of Plenty road trip. It’s beautiful environs, great town center and surrounds make Whakatane the perfect place for a relaxing holiday.
Why not check Whakatane the capital of sunshine, for yourself?