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Our beautiful Bay of Plenty backyard

Freedom! We’re so stoked to return to some normality, get back to work, get the kids back to school and start visiting a few of our favourite local haunts again.

One of the hardest things about the level 4 lockdown was the fact we had all this free time but due to the restrictions, we couldn’t embrace all the amazing adventures available in our own Bay of Plenty backyard.

This got us thinking about just how much we have available here in Tauranga and how easy it is to take for granted. Within a short drive from home, there’s beaches and bush, tracks and trails and some great waterfalls (if you know where to look).

In this week’s blog, we wanted to share three of our favourites with families in mind.

Part botanical garden and part art gallery, Te Puna Quarry Park is the perfect place to take the kids and go exploring. First planted in 1997 with all work being down by volunteers, the gardens feature specialised plant groups like palms, magnolias and clivias. Throughout the expansive gardens are cool sculptures like Maui’s Hook, the Weta and the Resident Dragon. With so much to see and great views of the Mount make sure you remember to bring your camera (and a donation). 

For bushwalks, a lookout, a waterfall and perhaps even a chance to see a sly kiwi in the wild it’s hard to go past Otanewainuku. Located on Mountain Road off Oropi Road, you’ll know you’re there when you see a small carpark, a sign and a shelter. This is where the adventures start and there are options depending on the level of fitness and mobility. The Rimu loop walk takes about 45 minutes is gently graded with some impressively large rimu trees and suitable for kids. If you’re feeling fit follow the signs to Whataroa Falls, which is perhaps an hour each way of slightly more arduous terrain with the reward of a lovely waterfall and swimming hole. Across the other side of the road, the loop track to the summit starts behind the shelter and is reasonably steep in parts, but the view from the top is worth the climb. The lookout tower constructed on the summit (640 metres) offers panoramic views from East Cape to Mount Tarawera and Rotorua, and across the Mamaku Plateau to Mount Ruapehu. You’ll have to leave the dog at home but if the pooch is in need of a bushwalk then our next top spot might be right up your alley.

Puketoki Reserve is found in the Whakamarama area and was donated to Tauranga by private landowners in 1926. The cleverly named Long Loop and Short Loop walks are clearly signposted, about 2km and 1km respectively and meander through native bush and streams. The information panels offer great info on the flora and fauna in the area and kids love running to find the next one. The real bonus is the reserve is dog friendly, so long as you keep Rover on the leash.

This is just a drop in the ocean of what we have available here in Tauranga and we like to keep a few secrets close to our chests. Do you have a favourite family outdoor adventure? Let us know in the comments on Facebook and happy exploring!

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