1. KAIATE FALLS
This 45-min return walk takes you through forest to a waterfall that cascades over various levels. There’s still no swimming at Kaiate Falls, but the views and the beauty of the surrounding bush and waterfalls more than make up for it. Bring your sunscreen and make sure your knees are okay to tackle steps! 30-minute drive from Tauranga.
2. MCLAREN FALLS PARK
McLaren Falls Park is 190-hectares of parkland set alongside Lake McLaren and is just 10-minutes by car from Tauranga – great for camping, fishing and kayaking. A short stroll away is McLaren Falls, impressive after rain, and after dusk you can see glow worms on the way.
3. TECT ALL TERRAIN PARK
Located halfway between Tauranga and Rotorua is the council-owned TECT All Terrain Park, a multi-purpose 1650-hectare site for outdoor activities. There is an off-leash dog exercising area, and tracks for walking, running, equestrian and mountain biking (plus a noisier zone for motorbikes and rally cars). There are also picnic areas, a BBQ and toilets.
4. OROKAWA BAY WALK
This popular tide-dependent walk starts at the northern end of Waihī Beach. Wind around the coastal headlands to reach Orokawa Bay and enjoy a picnic on the beach in the shade of giant pōhutukawa trees. Allow 45-minutes each way.
5. NGĀ TAPUWAE O TOI
This track, named for the great Māori chieftain Toi, loops between Whakatāne and Ōhope Beach. It meanders through superb native forest, spectacular pōhutukawa stands, unsurpassed coastal views and seabird colonies. Spanning over three major reserves – Kōhī Point Scenic Reserve, Ōhope Scenic Reserve and Mokorua Scenic Reserve – Toi’s track can be undertaken in sections or as a 16-kilometre round trip which can take between five and seven hours. It’s a kiwi zone so no dogs are permitted.
6. WHIRINAKI FOREST
Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park is an ancient forest deep in the central Bay of Plenty. It is home to mighty trees, rare native birds, and 155-kilometres of superb walking, tramping and mountain biking tracks to suit all levels. It is about a 2.15-hour drive from Tauranga or 1.45-hours from Whakatāne. We recommend you visit the Department of Conservation (DoC) office in Murupara before going on your walk.
7. ATHENREE WETLAND LOOP WALK
The award-winning Athenree Saltmarsh Wetlands restoration project is providing a habitat for indigenous plants and animals. This trail is regionally significant as it plays host to some of the largest populations of threatened wetland species within the Bay of Plenty, such as Fernbird and Australasian Bittern. The Wetlands Walk is a 20-minute loop and is accessible from the Emmerton-Steele Road (between Waihī Beach and Athenree).
8. ANZAC BAY TO SHELLY BAY
Try exploring Bowentown with amazing harbour views. Starting at the northern end of Anzac Bay, a wide grassy track leads westward up to an area where several tracks meet. Straight ahead leads to Shelly Bay – a stunning, sheltered and safe swimming spot. A left turn takes you to a popular fishing area and a right turn leads to the summit of Te Ho Pā site.
9. TUAHU KAURI WALK
The Kaimāī Mamaku Conservation Park covers an area of approximately 37,000 hectares and features over 350 kilometres of walking and tramping tracks. One of those trails, the Tuahu Track, begins at the end of Hot Springs Road, just south of Katikati off State Highway 2, and winds through native forest. The full walk is five hours one way but just 20 minutes into the trail, turn left onto a sidetrack that leads to a platform surrounding one of the largest kauri trees in the Bay of Plenty.
10. TE PUNA QUARRY PARK
Hidden in the hillside just north of Te Puna, this local gem is well worth a visit! Lovingly cared for by a group of passionate volunteers, Te Puna Quarry Park is the perfect place to go for a leisurely stroll (dogs are welcome on leads). Take in the stunning views, admire the beautiful gardens and stop in at Nourish on your way back to town for a delicious coffee and bite to eat. Accessible from Te Puna Quarry Road, 15-minutes by car from Tauranga.
These tracks are just a taster of the walking tracks that are out there in the Bay of Plenty, so get your walking shoes on and explore our beautiful natural environment – it’s good for the body and good for the soul!