The North Island continues to delight us as we travel to areas we've never visited before. For our excursion into the Bay of Plenty we decided to base ourselves at the Department of Conservation site in Matata. I'd try to explain how to pronounce that but even the locals don't appear to be consistent on their pronunciation of the place! Staying in Matata was both a good idea and not so good idea because the place was so beautiful with stunning white sandy beaches stretching, seemingly endlessly, into the distance that we didn't want to leave the site and go and explore. However, we did get out occasionally including the previously entered trip to White Island :-).
Matata is only a small place, approximately 30kms outside of the nearest main town of Whakatane, but it does have the essentials......two takeaways, two dairies (corner shop for non New Zealanders), one pub and a bottle store.....what else could you need ;-). The local takeaway, Auntys and Uncle, has the best value and best tasting fish, chips and burgers we've experienced yet on the North Island......so probably a good idea we moved on!
Whakatane is a great little town with plenty of the main shopping venues to be had along with some great pubs and cafes. If you need the internet, the iSite centre has fast free access along with plenty of information on what to do in the area from a very friendly and knowledgeable team.
There is a great walk which can be done in stages or as one big loop of about 20kms. We opted to do the loop on a day that had thankfully dropped from the constant high 20's to a more sensible, for hiking, 22. What a walk it is taking the hiker through lots of dense forest, forest with high light and airy canopies, through towns, up hills overlooking Whakatane and then down along the amazing beach at Ohope. If you are in the area and feel like stretching your legs then any section of this walk is amazing and the whole thing in one go is quite an achievement that definitely deserves a beer or two at the end!
All in all we have loved what little we have seen of the Bay of Plenty and hope to be back once we have taken ourselves through the Coromandel and Bay of Islands before we make our way down the east coast to Napier and beyond.