WORLD VIEWS: TAURANGA
IT’S SUN, SURF AND HOT SPRINGS GALORE IN THIS NEW ZEALAND GEM, MAKING ITS RETURN TO ARCADIA’S WORLD CRUISE
When explorer James Cook arrived on the shores of northern New Zealand in 1769, he declared it a ‘bay of plenty’. The name stuck, though the Maori people had cottoned on to this region’s charms three centuries earlier. A haven for wildlife (you might even spot a shy kiwi), it’s equal heaven for surfers, sun worshippers and nature lovers. Tauranga itself has a vibrant waterfront and culture galore, while nearby Mount Maunganui, a dormant volcano, offers walking trails, beautiful views and glorious white-sand beaches.
Good food is plentiful in and around Tauranga, and much of it grows in the farms and fields that surround the city. Pick your own blueberries, strawberries and raspberries at a berry farm, or tuck into the fabulous berry ice creams made on the premises. The area is also famous for its creamy avocados, manuka honey and kiwifruits.
A trip to Middle Earth
Acquaint yourself with the indigenous culture by visiting a Maori village. Watch a folklore performance with action songs, stick games and the haka war dance, and enjoy a hāngi, a traditional barbecue that sees meat and vegetables placed in a pit full of hot rocks, then covered with earth to cook for hours until smokily tender and delicious.
Taste Maori life
The Lord of the Rings fans will already know that much of Peter Jackson’s trilogy and its prequel The Hobbit was filmed locally. Matamata, a scenic drive from Tauranga across the stunning Kaimai Ranges, was the location for the Shire and its principal village Hobbiton, home to the adventure’s unlikely heroes. Relive the start of that amazing journey at the Party Tree, Green Dragon Inn and Bag End, Bilbo Baggins’ cosy house in the hillside.
With its steaming, sulphurous landscape and unearthly colour scheme, Wai-O-Tapu (pictured), south of Lake Rotorua, could double as a sci-fi film set, but it’s an extraordinary, all-natural phenomenon. One of the most extensive geothermal systems in New Zealand, its bubbling mud and erupting geysers are a result of thousands of years of volcanic activity.