They don’t call it the Bay of Plenty for nothing.  Tauranga, the Bay’s main centre is New Zealand’s fastest growing city –  and no wonder!

Kiwis and international visitors alike flock to this area not only for the picturesque white-sand beaches but also for surfing, adventure activities, fantastic restaurants, low-key seaside suburbs, cultural attractions and, the extinct volcano, Mauao (Mount Maunganui) overlooking the town.

We spent an afternoon clambering around Moturiki, the rocky headland beside Mount Maunganui.  The sunshine was glorious as we watched the Pacific waves rolling into shore, crashing onto the rocks, with the surfers catching the waves as they perform their graceful return to the shore.  Tauranga is a photographer’s paradise, as is so much of New Zealand. 

On our second day, we met up with a lady called Jo, who I have been online friends with for some time through our respective blogs.  Jo lives near Tauranga and has kindly invited us to stay with her before we leave the area.  But let’s get back to today, first!

We met up with Jo for a very enjoyable few hours at Mount Maunganui Hot Salt Water Pools.  We are getting to really enjoy these thermal pools around New Zealand.  After a delicious lunch together, we were free to wander around the city centre.  Pretty pink and white hanging baskets everywhere to adorn the already picturesque streets. 

At the end of the afternoon it was back to where we were staying with Val and Bryden who were renting out one of their spare bedrooms through Airbnb.  One of the great things about travelling this way is not only do you get the local person’s own knowledge of things to do in the area, you also start to form friendships.  We shared meals and BBQs with them and whilst we might have arrived as guests, we left as friends.

Mauao is the Maori word for Mount Maunganui, a volcanic cone dominating the skyline on the outer islands of Tauranga.  Even though we have visited previously, we have never walked around the base of this giant cone.  We were so glad we did.

This giant extinct volcano must have just risen out of the water, as sea shells can be seen embedded into the land as high as you can see. 

I’ve had a real struggle trying to restrict the number of photographs I have attached to this post, as they are all so beautiful.

During our stay,  we got the chance to visit the Legacy Jet Centre, an aircraft museum where we got the chance to sit in a Hawker Hunter fighter jet.  Well, you know how we love speed!