Fun facts about the Bay of Plenty

Did you know...

  • Tauranga means ‘safe anchorage' and is recognised as the landing place of Takitimu, Tainui, Mataatua which were some of the early voyaging canoes from Polynesia.

  • Despite not landing here Captain James Cook named the region the ‘Bay of Plenty’, as from the Endeavour his observation of the area was of the many Maori villages with well tended gardens.

  • Tuhua is one of the many volcanic offshore islands lying off the coast of Tauranga. Local Maori called the island Tuhua in recognition of the black obsidian or tuhua (volcanic glass) found on the island. The Island was first seen by Captain Cook on the date of the Lord Mayor's Birthday in London, England- November 3rd, 1769 and was named in his honour.

  • Tangaroa (God of the Sea) is the name of the bronze statue welcoming vessels into the Tauranga Harbour.  It is traditional to give the statue an offering at the start of your journey to ensure safe travels.

  • The name of the mountain as you enter Tauranga Harbour is Mauao which means ‘Caught by the light of the dawn’.

  • In 2008/09, approximately 936,000 people walked around the base track of Mauao making it one of New Zealand’s most popular coastal walking tracks.

  • Tauranga Harbour covers an area of 200 sq km with 290,000,000 tonnes of water passing through the harbour entrance with each tide.

  • The first Tauranga Harbour Bridge was opened on the 13 March 1988. The second bridge was opened on the 4 September 2009.

  • Tauranga City is now the fifth largest urban centre in New Zealand behind Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton.

  • The surrounding regions (namely Te Puke) produce the vast majority of New Zealand’s total kiwifruit output. The origins of kiwifruit in New Zealand can be traced to an elementary school teacher (Miss Isabel Fraser) returning from China with some seeds of ‘Yang Tao’ in 1904.

  • A local horticulturalist Hayward Wright developed the variety which now carries his name (Hayward variety) in 1928. This is the variety that is now eaten all over the world and is acknowledged as the world’s healthiest fruit.

  • There are 16 Surf Lifesaving Clubs in the Bay of Plenty region providing full-time professional lifeguard service throughout the summer months.

  • Mills Reef Winery is a local producer of award winning wine. Their grapes are grown in the Gimblett Gravels area of the Hawke’s Bay. However originally they produced kiwifruit wine, which is extremely popular in Japan.

  • White Island (off the coast of Whakatane) is New Zealand’s only active marine volcano.  Attempts were made in the early 1900s to mine sulphur from the island but the last of these were stopped in September 1914, when part of the crater rim collapsed, creating a lahar which killed all 10 workers. They disappeared without trace and only the camp cat, named Peter the Great, survived. 

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