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 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.
Matata has a nature reserve flanked with various flora to walk through and see herons, swans etc
Early morning on Matata beach where a kayaker gets ready for the days catch.
The reeds by the reserve made for some interesting texture for images.
The Lady on the Rock. This bronze statue on top of Turuturu Rock lies at the mouth of the Whakatāne River and commemorates the bravery of Wairaka and the daughter of Toroa, captain-navigator of the Mataatua waka.
Stopping to pose on one of our walks along the Matata beach.
Being only a few steps away from our van these reeds featured in quite a few images. Make for a great silhouette against the evening sky.
Whilst not every morning we did get our fair share of spectacular sunrises along the beach which is less than a 100m away from the site,
The Whakatane Loop walk headed up through dense bush with a few diversions along the way to take in the views.
You need to plan the loop walk to get here an hour either side of low tide....otherwise you are going to get very wet!
This beautiful Weta wandered across the path as I walking along, thankfully my boot just missed him. 
Might be a clue here on which way the prevailing wind travels at Ohope Beach.
A day trip to Mt Manganui resulted in a few coffees and a lovely walk around the mount. This surf life saving hut signalled the start and end of the walk......and then coffee
I relocated this super cute jumping spider off of my chair a number of times before I gave in and took it's photo...then it left me in peace!
No reason why not having a full studio should prevent a photographer getting studio type shots, even if your available space is just that of a caravan :-)
Another early morning walk rewarded with a beautiful sunrise.
In the absence of a tripod a little creativity was needed to capture the softness of this sunrise
Staying at the same place for a while gives the opportunity of capturing the same scene in a variety of lighting conditions. Nature decided that a pastel pallet was the order of the day on this occasion.
A fisherman leaves his line out to catch in the early morning with a bucket ready for the bounty. Saw him on the way back from our walk and he'd done very well for the day.
The same fisherman walking back with seaweed for his compost bunker
Hot and humid days made for some impressive afternoon clouds. The light catching the grass on the sand dunes in the late afternoon looked very dramatic.
Very much a posed shot, but I couldn't resist getting Bec to sit on this lone bench with vast grey skies above. 
I've seen plenty of Pukeko on my travels, but, I've never been able to get quite this close. The flock on the site were so time that one even took some food straight from my hand!
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