Bay of Plenty is rich in Māori culture and history with sacred spots such as Mauao, Papamoa Hills and Maketu, and many pa (fortified village) sites.
Guided tours to many of these historic sites highlight the area’s cultural history.
Mauao, the sacred mountain at Tauranga’s harbour entrance, translates as ‘caught in the light of the day’.
According to Māori legend, the once nameless mountain was spurned in love by another mountain, the beautiful Pūwhenua. One night Mauao begged the fairy-like creatures of the forest to drag him to the ocean and end his misery, but the creatures fled as the morning sun-rays struck leaving Mauao transfixed to his spot.
Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage regional park (Te Rae o Papamoa) is a significant site. The park has 10 ancient village sites that are amongst New Zealand's oldest. A walking track to the summit reveals views of Tauranga harbour and Mauao.
At Maketu, near Te Puke, a foreshore memorial commemorates the landing place of the Te Arawa canoe during the great migration.