Coming Up: spoilt for choice around the Bay


There’s so much on around the Bay of Plenty this weekend – you’ll be spoilt for choice whether you’re a local wanting your fix of music, markets, creativity, boutique shopping, beautiful bush walks…it’s all here.

If you’re driving down from Auckland way on State Highways 2 and 27  you’ll come down through Paeroa where you’ll find an art centre, vintage and antique shopping and access to a cycle trail which meanders the flat plains lands around here.   After “a day out” I stopped in at the Macdonald’s in Paeroa for a cup of tea.  The young woman who served me was so nice and the tea delicious.  You could also check out The Refinery on the street which runs behind the main road – that’s a “visitor experience” just because of the building it’s in.   Saturday night The Refinery hosts The Soultimers at 7.30pm to 11pm with guest Sarah Spicer (paid admission event). 

Watch out when your driving through the beautiful Karangahake Gorge between Paeroa and Waihi.  It’s pretty narrow in places and you could get diverted by the amazing scenery.  There’s a walking and cycle trail in this historic area.   Check out the cafe opposite the carpark or go along to the refurbished Waikino Hotel. 

And then to Waihi and Waihi Beach – if there’s nothing on it’s worth stopping in both these places. Waihi was and is the centre of gold mining in the region.  There’s public art acknowledging this.  If you need to stock up there’s a New World – also has yummy cabinet food.   Waihi Beach – love going there any time of the year.  They’ve got regular summer markets, music at the pub and an interesting collection of shops/boutiques and a private dealer art gallery.   I’ve got a series of images from a visit there.  Here’s a couple.

ARTbop favourite!

Through the Athenree Gorge and you’re into Katikati.   Check out  the WBOP Museum (YES), The Arts Junction, The Carlton Gallery, Harry Maddox Jewellers (has art and art craft on sale) and all the recycle and craft shops (don’t miss Arty Tarts)  Parking available on the main street.  Be careful this is a really busy section of SH2.  The Carlton Gallery has changing exhibitions and The Arts Junction now has performances.  There are regular markets and fairs in this town.  Check out the Friday-night Plant & Produce Market at the Showgrounds (just as you’re driving in from the north).    And in a week or two local legends Kokomo will be at The Arts JunctionThis Sunday you’ll find the Atrium Art & Artisan Fair at the Black Sheep at Whakamarama – worth a visit.  And check out the Atrium Gallery.  Parking, good food and a good time with live music during the Fairs.   The Black Sheep also hosts two regular jam sessions.  Check out  their facebook page.  If you drive past The Black Sheep down Plummer’s Point Road you come to Ongarahu Pa and Huharua Reserve – lovely walks and a slice of history.   Turn right off the Highway and go right up to the Puketoki Reserve – accessible walks in native bush.

ARTbop favourite: Black Sheep Brownie!

On the sideroads between Whakamarama and Tauranga City you’ll find several home-based boutiques, vintage shops and cafes.   You’ll also drive past the road to the Te Puna Quarry – our Western Bay of Plenty botanical gardens – all created by volunteers.   If you miss The Black Sheep, check out Nourish or visit The Clarke Road Eatery on the corner of SH2 and Clarke Road.    You might also want to go round the roundabout at Te Puna to find that behind the big Farmlands complex are Bostock’s Naked Meats (best sausages ever), best chocolate tart ever eaten from The Deli…..

If you get into Tauranga during the day don’t miss the Tauranga Art Gallery or the several private galleries you can find in the Downtown Area (including a fabulous New York look-alike I haven’t been in yet)

You can also exercise yourself and your bicycle around inner harbour boardwalk and walkway – the Waikareao Estuary Walk (free). Takes you through some mangrove and saltmarsh too – a unique perspective.I had a spare moment yesterday so I had a longer look at the cluster of excitement that has developed on 9th Avenue.  Love Rosie (their bread shop is around the corner), Florence and Co.; Follow the White Rabbit (a treasure trove of gifts) and Ooplah for French vintage stuff of all sorts and sizes.  There’s a photographer’s studio and the originator of this creative hub, Prestige Framing.  Over the road a smaller older home has been transformed into an outlet for collectibles – they have used big recycled metal drums for planters – looks amazing. Friday night in Tauranga on the Strand is a ticking place.   I’m not sure how long the Dive Crescent fish and chip shop is open for but don’t show up at “dinner time” – it’s so popular and so good the queue will be enormous.   It’s a not to be missed experience though sitting out by the water with your lunch.    Lots to choose from on the Strand.  Watch the traffic and the parking in Tauranga downtown at the moment – they’re digging everything up!

Friday night: The Lady Killers at Holy Trinity and take Two over at Mount Social Club (they’ve got Santiago on Saturday).  There’s also the Rialto Theatre in DTT and Event Theatres there and in the ginormous, Gold Coast-like shopping centre at The Crossing (if you came in down SH29 you would have driven past it).

Saturday and Sunday are market days.   The Tauranga Farmer’s Market at the Tauranga Primary School on Saturday mornings is worth going to see just to watch the rush for the eggs!      Zee Market is at the Historic Village in the Avenues with the Turning Point Trust’s Retro & Vintage Sale.   Both worth a visit.  I just loved the retro and vintage in the Trust’s two boutiques – they’re cash only.  You can also check out another favourite of mine The Velvet Coat Hanger (just along from The Joy Gypsy).

Never smile at a crocodile..

Saturday night has classical music at St Peter’s Church in Mount Maunganui.  You should check out Eventfinda for details of all the “Saturday-night-fever” around the town.    On Sunday there’s even a Wedding Show over at the ASB Exhibition Centre!  And, more music.    You’ll be having a fun-packed time in Tauranga.  Don’t overlook a visit to the Mount on Sunday.  Catch the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market and then walk the beach, eat brunch, check the shops, eat one of those huge ice creams from that shop opposite the Mount Hot Pools – go home and lie down!!!  I finally ate one of those huge ice creams the other week – divine (but maybe a once a year treat).

Driving out of Tauranga down past Papamoa, along the “old road” and into Te Puke “goodness grows here” I often stop to rustle through the Hospice op shop on the Left as you drive into town.  The town has a great rep theatre, library and I’ve been to an event at their High School. Over summer I stumbled onto an event they were holding on the Green.  I’d been down to the now closed The Funky Lizard at Paengaroa to see local, original music band Hybrid Blues record their first video.   Paengaroa is the home of Comvita – the other name for honey!If you can detour down to the coast at Maketu and acknowledge the resting place of the migratory canoe Te Arawa.  This is another journey I took.   They’re doing restorative work to the shoreline and river area here.On down to Whakatane – going straight ahead instead of round the roundabout to Rotorua (that’s coming) past Matata (bijou coffe cart on the right hand side of the road last time I went through).

I love Whakatane.  Nothing nicer than a visit to their Exhibition Centre (right in the middle of town).  A walk around the shops.  Buying lunch from the mid-town supermarket (it’s a spit from the Exhibition Centre because this amazing town converted a vacant hardware shop into an amazing art, library and museum space) and then going down to the waterfront to see and hear the waves.   I visited this town as a member of a University Kapa Haka group and stayed or visited the marae.  I’ve more recently been privileged to visit the Mataatua Wharenui – The House that came home.   If you’ve not visited a major Wharenui you should make the effort to see this one. It’s a paid tour which helps support the upkeep of this amazing building.

Down the flats through Ohope and Ohope Beach.   There’s an interschool kapa haka competition on at the Ohope Hall today Friday (going on right now).  There’s a shop/gallery on  the left of the main road as you drive through Ohope – has a wide and interesting selection of original art.   Beautiful beaches alive all year round.  In some respects I prefer going down the coast on a fine winter’s day.  It’s so alive and (less people)! 

I don’t often drive through the hill road to Opotiki.  One Summer I did this I enjoyed finding a small recycle shop and cafe on the roadside and I loved Opotiki town so much it went on my list of “places you could live”.    Next week My Name is Moana will be in the Opotiki Town Hall.  There’s a Create Me workshop the following day.   Opotiki is a particularly historic area of early colonial settlement and missionary involvement. 

If I’m going to Rotorua “Rotovegas” in the central lakes district I like to go the long way.  Down through Te Puke and towards Whakatane then over the gentle rolling hills past one of my favourite tea stops Okere Falls Store – I’ve gone on about their carrot cake before (at length).   Rotorua has its own vibe and style and is another place on my “i could live here” list.  Always lots going on for locals and tourists. 

Friday night Ardijah 8pm at the Lava Bar.   Saturday look out for the free event Te Manawa celebrating NZ Music Month; 4pm Shambles Theatre celebrates classical movie music,  Sunday the Rotorua Little Theatre has My Name is Moana;  Sunday morning Te Manawa is at the Rotorua Farmer’s Market; the Soundshell Market is also on Sunday morning.  I’ve found no matter what time of the year a day out in Rotorua is a vibrant and enlivening experience.  It’s all helped along by the enormous variety of plantings, public art and the Government Gardens with the water backdrop and that overlaid odour of excitement – thermal activity!    Have an amazing time and of course be safe and happy and take care on the roadways.




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