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First Paris, now Tauranga... Bikes, cafes and more

First Paris, now Tauranga... Bikes, cafes and more

Bike to the beach? Cheap cycles for rent – for locals and tourists – could be a reality by the end of the year. An Auckland based company, GoodGear, pioneer of European-style ‘public utility’ cycles in New Zealand, is aiming to bring the bikes-for-rent concept to Tauranga.  GoodGear has reached an agreement in principle with Tauranga City Council to run a fleet of cycles from 3 sites – one in Tauranga city, and two at Mount Maunganui. Director Julian Hulls says the bikes are ideal for getting around town, with a basket on the front. He says they aim to start with 25 to 30 cycles but sees the fleet expanding over time.  Julian cites the Paris experience where the aim is to put 21,000 cycles on the streets. He says using the same population formula, Tauranga could end up with 300 to 400 cycles for rent. The bikes can be locked and released using a rider’s cellphone.

Hovercraft for Harbour 
Tauranga Harbour is also on course to get its first hovercraft services, red tape permitting.  New company Bay Hovercraft has ordered two of the craft. The company is seeking consents to run two hovercraft - the larger Australian-built machine would carry 19 passengers in commuter trips between Tauranga and Omokoroa, while a second 6-seater smaller craft would be used for joyrides. Bay Hovercraft operations manager Jon Morris is superbly qualified as a master mariner from the U.K, who piloted hovercraft in the English Channel. 

What’s New Downtown...and Around
Here’s a quick tour of some the new cafes and restaurants that have sprung up downtown, and one or two establishments that have been given facelifts. 

‘Take Me to Your Elixir...’
‘Elixir’ is the perfect name for a new ‘juice cafe’ in downtown Tauranga, that offers a huge range of juices and smoothies. Spoiled for choice, the customer is helped out with tips: Bite Me for example, whipped up from apple, orange, carrot and radish is ‘good for hangovers.’ Other drinks are recommended for stress, energy and ‘skin.’  A nice touch is being able to buy a ‘shot’ size, if you don’t feel like downing a medium or large.
Elixir serves up breakfasts that range from muesli, fruit and yoghurt to hot croissants with fillings including bacon, eggs, and tomato. There are tasty salads and sandwiches, and no less than 20 gelato to choose from.  Caffeine fiends can feed their addiction with coffee by Izzo and there are 10 different teas to choose from.
As befits an enterprise selling such healthy potions, this cafe, with its avocado green walls and smart red chairs, is one of the most sparkling clean you will ever see. Go on, treat your winter-battered immune system at 114 Willow Street.   

Volantis on Devonport
Volantis translates as ‘flying fish’ – and all manner of attractive fish adorn its walls. These fish, crafted from metal by a superb local metal-worker Miles Gordon, help provide the restaurant with a classy nautical theme that is arty and understated.  
The Devonport restaurant is a spin off from the Mount Maunganui Volantis, that’s been around long enough to have made a name with locals and visitors. In fact, one of the biggies of the guide book business spotted it several years ago. Rough Guide New Zealand rated Volantis ‘one of the best spots on the strip for a casual coffee, or snacks along the lines of Thai chicken soup and gourmet burgers...’
Dianne Wagener and partner Colin Marshall, who’ve run the Mount Volantis for nearly a decade, launched the city version because guests ‘deserved’ one closer to them. But Devonport Road Volantis has subtle differences to the Mount, says Colin, offering a more relaxed atmosphere – with a cosy fire in winter and a sunny terrace for summer.
These days Volantis is known for a lot more than snacking, with tasty, generous-portioned dishes. Try their Thai chicken curry or scallop pasta.  Or sample Volantis’ popular gourmet burgers, made with the restaurant’s own patties. Smoked paprika and Dianne’s own combination of roasted spices provides their subtle, distinctive flavour.
The pair reckon their spicy seafood chowder is ‘world renown’ - based on the likes of an English couple, who’d heard of Volantis chowder even before setting foot in New Zealand. It’s a Far North chowder recipe of Dianne’s, with lots of seafood content and some more of her blended spices.
They don’t neglect the ‘Kiwi guy’ who wants a seriously big meal of steak (450 gram), eggs, chips and salad. The seafood platter is also described as a ‘very large meal,’ and the gourmet burgers ‘large.’ Most mains range in price from $17.50 to $29.50.
Volantis desserts include cheesecake with Maltesers and Baileys, and banoffee & lemon meringue pie. The lunch menu starts at $8.50.
Volantis is fully licensed and BYO, but there are perfectly quaffable ‘house wines’ for $25 a bottle or $5.00 per glass. The wine list has local wines including Mills Reef and Morton Estate, and you can purchase the likes of Mills Reef award winning Elspeth Syrah 2000 for $60 a bottle. The most expensive drop is a Vidal Estate Joseph Soler Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 at $95.
Volantis is open Monday to Saturday, from 9 am for breakfast, lunch and dinner (till late), then Sunday 9am until 4pm. Tel 577-6583, www.volantis.co.nz  

Zaggers Cafe
The former Florentines with expansive views of the Waikareao Estuary, has been reborn in style - as Zaggers. The Weekend Sun’s Hannah Keys writes that the massive indoor space has been injected with a bit of city style without the slightest pretence.
‘Zaggers is obviously child friendly, with their Little Zaggers menu, colouring in equipment within reach ....and of course Zaggers has a full menu for everyone else as well as take away items from the cabinets. ’
Ever efficient, Zaggers offer express lunches for professional short on time; just fax or email your order from their special menu by 11.15 am and they guarantee to have your meal on the table within five minutes of being seated.
‘With free parking for miles, a fantastic view of Waikareao Estuary, just five minutes from the central city in Chapel Street, the all-new Zagger’s is Tauranga’s latest and coolest cafe; from the inside to the out.’

B.A. Reader
Also revamped is the former Browsers that has become B.A. Reader – owned by former U.S. chemistry professor, Richard Cornelius. That doesn’t mean it’s suddenly all dusty chemistry tomes because this, dear reader, remains indisputably the best second-hand book store in town. The store covers hobbies and sports, arts and culture, ‘science to the occult’, and also stocks pre-1930’s postcards, brand name board games, art prints, and CD’s of pop artists and classical music. They buy quality books – not including ‘mills and boon,’ magazines or text books. For more info, phone 577 0990.

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