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!
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.
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!