Greetings from the Bay of Plenty, where the shortest day has come and gone ...Friday the 22nd of June, we were down to nine hours 38 minutes, according to the Met Service. In this newsletter, we focus on winter skiing that’s finally arrived, and we check out a quirky local version of speed dating…French, no less. If you missed the Art Gallery open day, here’s a small cultural catch up.
New stuff? We’ve added British-to-the-core UK Shop to our pages, along with two new ethnic eateries, Vergo and Eastern Ocean Chinese Restaurant. You’ll find them reviewed in Spotlight.
Next month we will introduce Real Estate pages as another beef up of our local information. The move is to cater partly for the many Britons who read BoTCom, some prior to emigrating here, not to mention the many Aucklanders who flee their traffic-snarled city for a better life in Tauranga. We will provide a quick snapshot of where to live in the district, with an indication of what different areas will cost you.
And a reminder to subscribe to our local news service: every weekday we send out an electronic bulletin with news from Tauranga and wider Bay of Plenty, provided by Newstalk ZB Bay of Plenty. This is a great way for locals to keep in touch via a leading Internet news provider, and it's also a good way for people shifting here to get a feel for whats making news in this part of the region. On the homepage, click on news and go down to the bottom of the page where’ll you’ll find a box for new subscribers to enter their details.
Winter Adventures – Ski! (Snow Time for Stupid Puns)
If you’re a newbie, bear in mind that a mere 3 hours drive from Tauranga will put you at the Top O the Bruce, on Mount Ruapehu’s Whakapapa ski field, all set to buy your chairlift ticket. It’s another half an hour’s drive further round the mountain to the Turoa field that is accessed from the carrot-growing and tourist town of Ohakune. To get briefed up on the Ruapehu fields, visit www.mtruapehu.com. You will find an avalanche (sorry, I get bored - Ed) of useful information, including snow reports with crucial facts such as ‘snow base’ (or depth), weather and snow conditions, and the facilities operating. You can also click on webcams to see the mountain conditions for yourself. There’s even an ‘overseas visitors’ link for you tourist types. Day trippers should consider a chairlift ride to the Knoll Ridge Café – New Zealand’s highest altitude café. (Where you can still get a decent coffee). The views from a sunny balcony of live volcano Ngauruhoe and the nearby peaks called The Pinnacles are spectacular.
Where to stay? Here’s a tip… Ski 150 is a Tauranga-based ski club which operates a 35-bed ski lodge based in National Park Village (15-20 minutes from the skifield). The lodge is built over three levels and includes a lounge with beautiful views of the mountains, a games room, TV room and large dining room. There’s also a workshop, drying room - and a very popular spa! Members and guests bring their own bedding and are allocated beds in a variety of bunk rooms, family and double accommodation. Schnapps pub is a short walk away. During the ski season – July to October – lodge managers are employed to provide breakfast and dinner and keep the lodge running smoothly. Guests are welcome (About $50 per night for adults, less for kids) though of course members get preference. More information - visit the website: www.ski150.co.nz or contact: Liz French (President) firstname.lastname@example.org (Shares for sale!) To book: Allen Rogers (Booking Officer) email@example.com
Speed Dating – French-Style
Forget the internet, Tauranga’s fun-loving Café Versaille has come up with a new, slower, culinary version of speed dating. It is pitched at singles aged 30 to 50, and based on a table for four people – two women, and two men who ‘meet each other, talk eat and drink.’ After each of the courses, the gents move to the next table, and the pattern repeats. At the end, diners submit a list of who they’d like to provide their contact info to. If there’s, a match, contact information is sent to both parties. For $49 per person you get dishes like Petit Coeur de la Mer ( pastry hearts with seafood filling) and Poulet Casonova (chicken breast with camembert & apple, Calvados sauce). Free glass of champagne for the ladies. It’s on July 26th, bookings essential. For further information: Phone 571 1480.
Gallery Gazing – Hundreds Turn Out
For the benefit of culture-hungry Taurangans who missed the Tauranga Art Gallery’s open day, here’s a little flashback. The May open day was the first time the doors had been flung open to the public and over 1,100 people attended. Curator Penny Jackson says people came from as far away as Whangarei in the North and Christchurch in the South. “The response was wonderful, very gratifying in fact,” she says. “Most people could imagine the spaces filled with art and delighted in the mix of artificial and natural light throughout the building. I think for many people the inside was a complete surprise as the outside gives little away.”
The glass floor areas on the upper level fascinated people – many asked permission to walk on them but children didn’t hesitate to walk all over them, Penny says. Many visitors commented on how it felt like the Skytower (glass floor).
The $7.6 million project delivers 700 square metres of gallery space that is split over two levels and provides a range of flexible exhibition spaces. No art has been hung yet; there’s now a pretty intensive commissioning period. Put the official opening date in your diary - October 20, 2007.
Ever wondered what it feels like to gaze out across the Mount from one of the cruise ships moored at the Port of Tauranga? Jean Mathews sent us this nice pic taken from several stories up on one of those floating palaces. See BotCom’s photo gallery for more…
A Wellington visitor sent a couple of snaps of a winter’s day on Main Beach, Mount Maunganui
The thrilling sight of waka ama – the modern version of original Polynesian outrigger canoes – powering through the water. The Inter Marae Waka Ama Challenge is hosted by the local Waka Ama club. It is a fun paddling event with a series of races between teams in 6-person outrigger canoes, over a distance of 300m. The event is on from 8am to 4pm at Pilot Bay, Mount Maunganui, on Sunday, 22 July. Further information – Ngawiki Burns, phone 578-2447.
The Tauranga Society of Artists Annual Art Show is great to catch the work of local artists. This Exhibition is always a very popular event. The works selected by members were completed during the last year and have not been exhibited before. It’s on at Baycourt Exhibition Hall, from 9 am, Saturday 21 July to
Our latest prize draw will get Karen from Te Puke and Keith from Tauranga scooting along on the breeze out at blokart Heaven, home of the inimitable little land yachts. Two more lucky winners, Graeme from Greerton and Donna from Waihi, will receive Comvita gift packs, each containing Royal Jelly hand and body lotion and a generous 1kg jar of Manukau Active 5+ honey.
Our new prizes are two DVD’s from Kokomo, Tauranga’s very own history-making band, the first to release a concert DVD. And to help you fight off the cold, there are family passes to go and luxuriate in the warmth of Mount Maunganui’s iconic Hot Salt Water Pools.
A reader from Tauranga writes: "As regular visitors to Auckland we are used to paying dearly for a cup of coffee but we think our visit to Sylvia Park takes the prize. Both my husband and I drink decaf, soy lattes in a mug or bowl. The usual price for this is an extra 50c each. We were stunned and one might say spooked to be charged $12 at the Coffee Club cafe for our two coffees. Not only were they $1 dearer than normal but they had the cheek to charge us an extra 90c each for hiring the mug." (Source: NZ Herald Sideswipe column)
Yeah right…We sincerely hope this person’s healing skills are better than their sign-writing ability.