We love a great staycation: Rotorua, Whakatane… After her first visit across the ditch, Reyes Beard (@thatreyes), a freelance brand manager from South Australia with an insatiable appetite for good company and great view, shares what’s it actually like to be a TOURIST at the Bay.

For my first trip to New Zealand, to get acquaint­ed with my fiancé’s dear home­land, I knew a road trip to the Bay Of Plen­ty was a high pri­or­i­ty. The lure of a pro­gres­sive culi­nary scene, com­bined with con­trast­ing nat­u­ral beau­ty from moun­tains to bush­land and sprawl­ing beach­es, the Bay seemed to tick all the box­es.

Depart­ing Taupo, I was busi­ly scrolling through Insta­gram to try get the lay of the land and quick­ly dis­cov­ered that we would be kept busy try­ing to fit in all the stun­ning vis­tas and eat our way through all the places that we want­ed to.

Rolling into The Mount around lunchtime we were greet­ed with a quin­tes­sen­tial­ly New Zealand spring day — sun­ny, breezy and clear. Imme­di­ate­ly we saw this as a sign to take a walk up the famous Mount Maun­ganui and bask in that famous out­look… but first, cof­fee!

Wild One Whole­foods

Duck­ing into the airy and bright space of Wild One Whole­food; we fuelled up on bowls gen­er­ous­ly heaped with home­made hash, beans and enough good stuff to leave you feel­ing like an enlight­ened being, which we accom­pa­nied with per­fect­ly poured cof­fee with enough kick to make sure you get up the moun­tain!

Hav­ing tak­en in the salty breeze and view that was every bit as beau­ti­ful as social media made it out to be, we decid­ed it was time to make our way over to Pheonix Val­ley Retreat.

Glamp­ing is some­thing that I had always want­ed to expe­ri­ence and I could not think of a more per­fect place to relax in rugged lux­u­ry than here — just wind­ing down the long dri­ve­way, you know that you are in for some bliss­ful soli­tude.

Upon arrival we were wel­comed with chilled bub­bly and the most deli­cious gold­en rays of sun lick­ing through the tree­tops as it turned the whole camp­site and it’s sur­rounds into a glow­ing scene from a post­card.

There’s noth­ing that hasn’t been thought of at this gor­geous lit­tle retreat; a well-appoint­ed camp kitchen with larder sup­plies so you don’t have to go with­out the essen­tials; there’s even pots of boun­ti­ful fresh herbs at your dis­pos­al to bright­en up your camp cook­ing.

Suf­fice to say, we slept incred­i­bly sound­ly with the ambi­ent warmth of the bed­room fire­place keep­ing us cosy, as we were soothed to sleep by the tran­quil sounds of the flow­ing stream. We awoke the next day lis­ten­ing to a sym­pho­ny of morn­ing birds as we lay in bed and pon­dered the day’s activ­i­ties.

Decid­ing to mean­der down the coast towards Ohope Beach, we packed the car and set off with­out any real plan, and I am so glad we did!

As we drove towards Ohope, I became more and more aston­ished with the beau­ti­ful­ly rugged coast­line and the way it stretched out for miles, with scarce­ly anoth­er per­son to be seen. Sur­round­ed by wild­flow­ers and lush green approach­ing the sand, drift woods and dis­tant moun­tain fig­ures bob­bing in the ocean; there is absolute­ly no short­age of places to sim­ply pull up, set up a pic­nic and bask in this unique­ly NZ seaside.

Moxi Cafe

After dri­ving what felt like every nook and cran­ny of the coast to Ohope, we were in need of stretch­ing our legs and kick­ing back over some­thing to eat and drink. As we strolled, we came across Moxi Café; appear­ing like some kind of trendy food and bev­er­age oasis in the mid­dle of an oth­er­wise qui­et street. Lur­ing us in with it’s vibrant, mod­ern styling and wel­com­ing seat­ing arrange­ment that beck­ons you to stay a lit­tle longer; once again, we were charmed with the thought­ful and con­tem­po­rary food offer­ings in seem­ing­ly small towns.

Although sad­ly too fleet­ing; my time in the Bay of Plen­ty cer­tain­ly lived up to it’s name and I was total­ly cap­ti­vat­ed by it’s under­stat­ed nat­u­ral allure and even more-so by the vision of the amaz­ing pro­duc­ers set­ting up hid­den gems all over the Bay, striv­ing to sim­ply bring the out the best of what the region has to offer and look darn good while doing it. No doubt, I will be back again soon!