Top 10 Hikes & Walks in the Bay of Plentyexplorererin2021-09-14T11:34:44+12:00
The Bay of Plenty is a hub for all things outdoors, but especially for hiking and walking. There are many different types of scenery available, from lakes and coastal walks to summits, waterfalls, farmland and sites of historical significance.
Below are my favourite 10 walks and hikes to do in the Bay of Plenty, some of them are short and gentle and suitable for those of you wanting something quick, while others require a bit more fitness and skill and passion for hiking.
1: The Redwoods
Distance: Various Time: Various
If you only have time for one walk during your stay in the Bay of Plenty, then the Rotorua Redwoods should be your go-to. A haven for photographers, mountain bikers and walkers alike, the Redwoods will top off your trip to the mighty Bay.
With over 55,000 hectares of towering forest, the Whakarewarewa Forest, commonly referred to as “The Redwoods”, has walks for everyone. From short 30 minute loop tracks through redwood groves, to multi-hour tramping tracks up to peaks and lookouts.
Get to the main carpark from the side road off Tarawera Road, and from here, follow the signposts of one of the walks or mix and match them to create your own loop.
If you want that something extra, you can climb amongst the treetops with the Tree Top Walkway. Suspended high above the ground, take in the magnificent redwoods as you make your way across suspension bridges and platforms.
2: Mount Maunganui – Summit
Distance: 1.9km One Way Time: 45 minutes One Way
One of the most famous landmarks in the Bay of Plenty, Mount Maunganui, or “The Mount” as it is called by locals, is one of the most popular walks in the area.
Sitting 231 metres above sea level, take one of the various tracks to the top and enjoy views over Tauranga, the bay and further out to sea to White Island. Popular at sunrise, the summit overlooks Mount Maunganui as it welcomes the first rays of the day.
The walk starts from the boardwalk beside the beach along Marine Parade and climbs gently to the summit. Make your way down a different path and enjoy a refreshing swim in the water or a coffee from one of the beach-side cafes.
3: Blue Lake Track
Distance: 5.5km Loop Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Just around the corner from the Redwoods lies the famous Tikitapu/Blue Lake, with water so startling blue it has to be seen to be believed.
The loop track is a popular one amongst locals, and for good reason. Sidling around the lake and through the forest, it is a good, gentle walk suitable for families.
Park in the carpark on Tarawera Road, there is a small playground and public toilets here, and head off in either direction. Note that there is a bit of the loop track that goes along next to the road on the Eastern side, so you will either do this at the start or the end of the walk.
Pack a picnic and have a bite to eat after finishing the walk, or, in summer, enjoy a pleasant swim in the lake.
4: Ngā Tapuwae o Toi Walkway
Distance: 16km Loop Time: 7 – 8 hours
For those of you wanting a day hike, consider Ngā Tapuwae o Toi Walkway, or “Footprints of Toi”, a 16km loop that traverse the best parts of Whakatane, offering views of the surrounding area.
Called Ngā Tapuwae o Toi Walkway because it crossed through the heart of the land that used to belong to the great chief Toi, this track showcases historic pā sites, coastal cliffs, calm beaches, forest and panoramic views of the Bay of Plenty and islands out to the North.
Because it is recommended to do this hike clockwise, the best starting place is to park on Commerce Street or in the carpark on Pacific Coast Highway in the Mokoroa Gorge, just up from the roundabaout. From here, head along Commerce Street, turning up the stairs to Hillcrest Road just before Pohatoroa (the Rock).
Turn left onto Seaview Road and follow the signs onto the track. The track is well signposted and marked out to Kohi Point and down to Otarawairere Bay.
After walking along Otarawairere Bay and then Ohope Beach, the track gets slightly harder, as it climbs up to the ridge, offering beautiful views. The last bit of the walk descends back down to the Pacific Coast Highway and the carpark.
5: Wairere Falls
Distance: 10km There and back Time: 3-4 hours
Wairere Falls is a huge 153 metre high waterfall in the heart of the Kaimai-Mamaku Conservation Park, and the track takes you right up to the top of the falls.
Starting from the carpark at the end of Goodwin Road, off Old Te Aroha Road, the track crosses through moss covered rocks and over small bridged streams before climbing up to a lookout platform where you can see the waterfall in all its glory.
From here, the track steepens as it climbs up to the top of the falls, traversing through forest for the last few KMs. The viewing platform on the edge of the waterfall offers spectacular views over the Waikato.
Go back down the way you came, taking extra care on the steeper sections as they can be hard on your knees.
6: Papamoa Hills Summit
Distance: 4km One Way Time: 45 minutes
From the carpark on Poplar Lane, enjoy a pleasant walk to the trig at the summit of the Papamoa Hills Regional Park. The walk does rise, steeply in some sections, as it takes you through working farmland and over hills before finishing at the trig station.
The summit is 224 metres above sea level and will offer panoramic views over the coast and Bay of Plenty, all the way to Mount Maunganui.
Return the way you came or take one of the other walking tracks to one of the many pā sites in the park.
7: McLaren Falls Park
Distance: Various Time: Various
McLaren Falls Park boasts some of the most picturesque scenes in the Bay of Plenty, with swan-filled lakes and gentle waterfalls, Rimu groves and glowworms. In this park, there are many different walks to choose from, as well as an abundance of other activities.
My recommendation for this park would be to take the short track to the waterfall, looking out for glow worms in the dark crevices on either side of the track.
You can then either loop back on the other side of the stream or continue onto the Nikau track for a longer walk. The Nikau track climbs gently to a lookout over the park before joining the Ponga Grove Track and Pine Tree Knoll Track to another lookout.
From here, choose one of the many other walks, have a game of disc golf, enjoy a peaceful lunch, or make your way along the lake back to the carpark.
8: Otanewainuku Lookout
Distance: 4.6km Loop Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
The Otanewainuku Lookout track takes you through gorgeous forest up to a trig and lookout at 640 metres above sea level.
The carpark is on Mountain Road, near its junction with No.2 Road. From here, the track starts behind the shelter and can be done in either direction.
At about halfway, climb up the steps to the top of the lookout platform and be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views, from Mount Tarawera across the region all the way down to Mount Ruapehu.
Climb back down from the platform and continue around the loop back to the carpark.
9: Whataroa Falls
Distance: 3.5km One Way Time: 1 hour
Across the road from the Otanewainuku Lookout Track is the start of the Whataroa Falls Track, which takes you through forest and beside the stream to a secluded swimming hole and waterfall.
From the carpark head out on the Rimu loop walk and take the signposted turn off after about 15 minutes.
From this turn off the track gets harder as it weaves between tree roots. After 40 minutes you will start to hear the sound of water and after another 5 minutes will emerge on the bank of the swimming hole.
Take a quick dip in the swimming hole, take a photo of the waterfall and have a quick snack before returning the way you came back to the carpark.
10: Kaituna Wetland
Distance: 6km Loop Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Kaituna Wetland is one of the biggest wetlands that remain in the Bay of Plenty. The loop track takes you around the wetland and gets you up close to the birdlife occupying it.
The carpark is near where Kaituna Road meets Pah Road, and there are signs and information boards about the Lower Kaituna Wildlife Management Reserve.
You can choose to do the smaller loop or meander through the whole wetland on the bigger 6km loop, and make sure you enjoy the scenery from the bird hide down a short side track.