Best of Tauranga Newsletter - April 2007

G’day, Kia Ora, and a huge thank you for your support and all the words like ‘wonderful’ and ‘fantastic’…music to the ears when you’re hunched over the slave-driving ‘puter slugging back bad coffee. BoTCom appears to have made won friends in and around the Western Bay as well as overseas. For a quick glance at what others have said about us, go to the home page.
Please keep the feedback coming and email: And don’t forget to send in your photos and blogs on local attractions, eateries and adventures.

By now you’ll hopefully have spotted our moves to beef up the information content of For example, we’ve introduced traffic cam, and weather links. The Trustpower traffic cam link comes off Getting Around the Region. From the ‘When to Visit’ page you can click on the Met Service button to access a wealth of data on local weather. And from the Surfing page, access where you’ll find the country’s best bundle of surf forecasts and wave-related information (produced from a hangar at Tauranga Airport!).

For the benefit of Tauranga residents and Tauranga-ites living in far flung parts of the world in particular, we’ve launched a local news page. The Internet news is supplied by Newstalk ZB Bay of Plenty in association with leading Tauranga Internet provider, EOL. Look for the headlines at the top right of the homepage and click at the bottom to rocket off to the stories. The homepage has been tweaked a bit so you can see at a glance, slap bang in the middle of the page, what is ‘Just in’ (No, it’s not Justin’s column).

To get oriented without the aid of global positioning devices, we’ve also added maps on a page called rather appropriately, Regional Maps - accessed from the homepage, left hand side. The maps cover Tauranga City, central Mount Maunganui, outlying towns of Katikati and Te Puke, and show where we sit in the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region (in the planners’ jargon).

We have added a couple of new businesses to the website. Culinary Council ( at Gate Pa Shopping Centre is a specialist store with more food equipment than you can poke a risotto at. Not to mention a large Mediterranean deli section. Harry’s @ Harringtons is a cybercafé where you can get a decent sandwich. The café is in Willow Street – handy to heaps of accommodation.


We vowed to give you the chance to sample superb things to do around Tauranga and the Western Bay through our monthly prize draw. Happily, the first prizes have been drawn - by Classic Hits 95 BOP FM’s Breakfast Host, Brian Kelly and we are pleased to announce the winners:

Richie from the Mount won the Flight Experience voucher, Sue from Maungatapu, and Jason from Greerton won a family pass each to the Classic Flyers Museum. Congratulations! We will contact you, if we haven’t already, with details of how to claim your prize.

This month our prize package is water-focused … the first is for a Family Fun Day pass for Waimarino Adventure Park…This generous pass worth $120 admits 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16. Second prize is two adult passes to Baywave’s superb aquatic and leisure centre opposite Bayfair at Mount Maunganui.

We’ve been Blogged!

It’s always intriguing to see how top travel writers perceive and rate local attractions. Max Hartshorne, the editor of extraordinary (daily travel blogs from all over the world!) recently visited the North Island, with fellow travel blogger Cindy Bigras. Max blogged up a storm during and after his visit to the Western Bay. Here’s just one of his writings called Sailing Around the Track on Wheels that shows just how far our local invention has spread:
‘The blokart is a uniquely Kiwi invention. It's like a three-wheeled go kart but instead of a smelly motor, it is propelled around the track by four metres of sail. I tried these out at Blokart Heaven, with Garry Ingram piloting his own craft and shouting directions to me as we whizzed around a track. "Pull it in! Pull it in!" he cried. This is easier than it looks, and they've gotten these babies up to about 100 Kph wide open spaces like the Great Salt Lake. Fun!’

Motor Home ‘Village’ Plan for Katikati

Katikati looks set to become the test ground for an innovative new residential development catering for mobile home owners. The Stephenson family have been making headlines in Tauranga over their blueprint for ‘Movanners Village Katikati’ – a village of low maintenance homes providing easy access to the owners’ mobile home, and space for ‘movanning’ friends to park up and stay.
Architect Andrew Stephenson came up with the concept after three years on the road with wife Petra and their three children, in an 11-metre bus. He says many people don’t get into movanning because of financial and other ties to their present home – or they don’t want to rent their home out while they’re away. The Village concept provides a base to return to that “meets all the diverse needs of modern day movanners.” Each 2 to 3-bedroom townhouse will have its own dump station, power and potable water supplies. The village includes landscaped communal areas to encourage the sense of community they’ve encountered on the road. The “environmentally sensitive” concept was presented to hundreds of movanners who turned up for this years’ Easter motorhome rally held in Tauranga, and it was an “overwhelming success” with all 14 units selling out. For more information:

‘Bay of Plenty Steamer’ Sells Out

There’s nothing quite like the sight of a monster steam locomotive belching smoke and steam, harking back to a pre-iPod age…plenty people think so! Tickets for a steam train journey through the Bay sold out within days. A J Class steam loco will haul passengers from Mount Maunganui to Kawerau on June 2, with a stop at Kiwi360, in what will be something of a trial run. Locals will get a once-only chance to ride the rails to sort all the logistics, before the rail jaunt is pitched at cruise ship passengers as a unique summertime “shore excursion”. Tourism Bay of Plenty General Manager Tim Burgess had urged locals to “make the most of the opportunity” and it seems they, and steam train enthusiasts responded. Given the enthusiasm, perhaps the joint venture partners -Tourism Bay of Plenty, Mainline Steam and Kiwi 360 – can lay on the odd trip for locals and other New Zealanders – not just cruise ship passengers? Photo courtesy Tourism Bay of Plenty.

Mount Peak Ranks in Top 101 Kiwi ‘Must Do’s’

Many people, Tauranga locals included, may have missed the fact that a local attraction made the AA’s Top 101 Must-Do New Zealand experiences. Nominations were put in by regional tourism organisations, and then the public were given a vote. More than 20,000 Kiwis had their say, and our iconic peak of Mount Maunganui (Mauao) came in at number 50. The AA said: “This location has long been a favourite holiday destination for kiwis, in particular Main Beach. A beautiful white sandy beach, it's the base for a host of activities such as surfing, beach volleyball and thundercat racing. You haven’t been to “The Mount” without enjoying the beach on a busy summer's day.” The Bay of Plenty’s live volcano White Island made the top 20 in 17th place. “Located off the coast of Whakatane, it takes approximately 80 minutes to reach White Island by boat. When you step ashore on to this hissing, steaming and roaring ecological wonder - estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000 years old - you'll have entered a whole new world.”

Don’t Miss…

The ASB Kaimai Classic on May 20 is a multisport attraction that takes in some of the best scenery in the Bay of Plenty - with athletes cycling, kayaking and running. The 65-kilometre event ‘to challenge all’ begins in the McLaren Falls Reserve and covers scenic country roads and reserves. It includes a 5km trail run,18km mountain bike ride, 11km kayak, 23km road cycle and finishes with a gruelling 11km run. But hey, you can always pour a glass of wine somewhere safe and spectate…check the view at the same time, as the course takes in some breathtaking views from the Kaimai Ranges and Minden lookout. For more details:

Tauranga’s Art Gallery!

Don’t miss out on the chance to see over the building that will house Tauranga’s long-awaited city art gallery. The finishing touches are being put to the building, the former BNZ Bank in Willow Street, before it is handed over the Art Gallery Trust on about May 21. An open day where the public can get a feel for the new community facility, is planned for Saturday May 26. Director Richard Arlidge says it’s a unique opportunity given that there’s a lengthy commissioning process before the gallery can be opened in October. More info at


Strange Times at Omanu
Over Easter, a reader of the New Zealand Herald named Jean went for a stroll along Ocean Beach, Mt Maunganui. Past the Omanu Surf Club she noticed what appeared to be a leg, amputated below the knee. Closer inspection revealed it was an artificial limb… very strange. Later that day she took another walk towards Omanu and this time saw a black pig on a lead enjoying a paddle in the water. Again, how strange. "I have walked this beach for over 40 years," says Jean, "but this was certainly the most eventful day." (Source: NZ Herald Side Swipe column)

We understand the Shih Tzu Dog Breeders Association is extremely annoyed by such mis-spelt signs. Bad head for heights? ‘Desensitise’ yourself by gazing out of a chopper with no doors on. This was the view of the Tauranga Harbour channel from a few hundred metres up on our photo shoot with Aerius Helicopters (

Happy Surfing,
Grant Dyson (

Posted: Sun 01 Apr 2007






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