Historic Homes, Art and Gardens
Stay and Play
Explore the creative character, history and outdoor gardens in the Bay of Plenty.
Discover the street art and open-air murals on display and enjoy the creative works in the region’s many art galleries and artistic spaces. Delight in the unique gardens and journey into the past at one of the many heritage sites or historic homes.
Katikati Bird Gardens – Discover these beautiful harbourside country gardens adorned with huge trees, ponds and wetlands. . Katikati Bird Gardens has aviaries with parrots, and enclosures for breeding pheasants and fancy bantams. Around the garden’s native birds such as Tui, Heron, Fantail and Grey warblers can usually be seen
Katikati Open Air Art – Experience the visual delight of Katikati’s unique history displayed in over 60 outdoor murals and artworks. Trained and dedicated guides will talk you through the unique history of the only planned Ulster Irish settlement in the world.
Western Bay Museum – This boutique museum in Katikati tells the historic, cultural and artistic stories of the area. Temporary, thematic exhibitions are developed and displayed regularly, and a permanent exhibition of Taonga Māori captures the beginning of Aotearoa.
Te Puna Quarry Park is a relaxed and unique destination, offering walking tracks, gardens, picnic lawns and sculptures – all with panoramic views over the Bay. Open all day, every day, admission is free – though a koha (donation) to support the work of the wonderful volunteers who look after the park is always appreciated.
Tauranga Art Gallery – High-quality touring exhibitions can always be found in this modern space, many of which are interactive and involve all of your senses. Visitors are encouraged to touch, smell and listen to art, as much as look at it. Technology such as virtual reality is fully embraced to help bring exhibitions to life. The Tauranga Art Gallery is open seven days a week from 10am – 4:30pm.
Street Art – Tauranga’s growing reputation for street art ramped up another gear in 2017 when internationally acclaimed artists turned the city into an outdoor gallery during the Paradox Street Art Festival. Their remarkable legacy is on display for all to see in Tauranga’s CBD and can be enjoyed as you stroll around the city’s streets. Empty walls are now riots of colour; electricity substations now pay homage to 1980s television icons and clever social commentaries can be found tucked around street corners.
Check out the ‘Art Lovers Walk’ in Mount Maunganui and Tauranga to make the most of what’s on offer.
The Incubator at the Historic Village (17th Ave Tauranga) has fast become a magnet for clever, creative types. What was once a derelict barn has now been transformed into New Zealand’s largest creative hub south of the Bombays, and their ‘People’s Gallery’ has now opened in a nearby historic hall.
The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga is one of New Zealand’s oldest heritage sites. As a place of early contact between Māori and Pākehā, this historic site remains at the centre of Tauranga’s history and identity today. Encompassing category one listed heritage buildings and nationally significant collections – all set within a diverse and tranquil garden setting – this one-hectare property is a must-see destination for visitors to the region.
BOP Garden and Art Festival – 70 stunning gardens and more than 50 talented artists will be on show at this year’s festival from 19th to 22nd November. Exploring other people’s private oases will inspire and delight you. You can check out gardens close to home or follow the trail across the Western Bay. Don’t forget to visit the festival hub ‘Bloom in the Bay’ at the Historic Village during the weekend.
Mataatua: The House That Came Home – an extraordinary story of a house that travelled the world, before coming home to the people of Ngāti Awa in 2011. Built in 1875, it travelled to Sydney, Melbourne, Victoria & Albert Museum and South Kensington Museum (London), Dunedin and Otago before being rebuilt back in its place of origin, Whakatāne, in 2011. Marvel at the intricacy of the carved representations of the great chiefs of Ngāti Awa, before two of the tribe’s most famous traditions are brought to life before your eyes in Hiko: Legends Carved in Light – the award winning Mataatua visitor experience.
Whakatāne Museum & Arts – The Whakatāne Museum dates back to 1933, but efforts to open it were curtailed by WW1. After decades of fund-raising, the museum opened in 1972 and today provides a lively collection of exhibitions.
Kiwi Wandering Trail is a self-guided scavenger hunt through the heart of Whakatāne – Kiwi Capital of the World™. Find the ten life-like, life‑size bronze kiwi statues, brought to life by artist Dr. Liz Grant.
Whakatāne Gardens – The Whakatāne Gardens are close to town and a wonderful place for a walk. They’re a popular spot for picnics, summer weddings and concerts and comprise rose gardens, a scented garden and an authentic Japanese Garden, made with contributions from Whakatāne’s Sister City in Japan, Kamagaya.