Bay of Plenty
The Bay of Plenty, known in Māori as Te Moana-a-Toi, is a large indentation in the northern coast of New Zealand's North Island. It stretches from the Coromandel Peninsula in the west to Cape Runaway in the east, a wide stretch of some 259 km of open coastline. The Bay of Plenty Region is situated around this body of water, also incorporating several large islands in the bay.
The Māori name for the bay is Te Moana-a-Toi ("the sea of Toi"), a reference to the ancestral explorer Toi-te-huatahi, whose name was given to many prominent places in the region. Various waka arrived with settlers from eastern Polynesia around the thirteenth century: Mataatua, Nukutere, Tainui, Te Arawa and Takitimu.
The name "Bay of Plenty" originated with the English explorer James Cook during his 1769–70 exploration of New Zealand, who noted the abundant resources in the area. In the 1830s, Europeans began to settle in the area.
On 5 October 2011, the MV Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef in the bay causing a large oil spill, described as New Zealand's worst ever environmental disaster.
The coastline from Waihi Beach in the west to Opape is defined as sandy coast, while the coast from Opape to Cape Runaway is rocky shore.
Sizeable harbours are located at Tauranga, Whakatane and Ohiwa. Major estuaries include Maketu, Little Waihi, Whakatane, Waiotahi and Waioeka/Otara. Eight major rivers empty into the bay from inland catchments, including Wairoa River, Kaituna, Tarawera, Rangitaiki, Whakatane, Waioeka, Motu and Raukokore rivers.
The bay contains numerous islands, notably the active volcano Whakaari / White Island, which lies 50 kilometres from the coast in the eastern bay. Other large islands include (from west to east) Matakana Island, Mayor Island / Tuhua, Motiti Island, and Moutohora Island.
The coast is dotted with several sizable settlements, the largest of which is the conurbation of the city of Tauranga and its neighbour Mount Maunganui in the west. The town of Whakatane is located in the centre of the coast. Other towns of note include Waihi Beach, Katikati, Maketu, Pukehina Beach and Opotiki.
Most of the population along the coast is concentrated in the western and central parts of the shore; the eastern part is sparsely populated hill country.
The bay is a popular area for pleasure boating and game fishing, especially around the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula at the bay's western end. The Port of Tauranga is New Zealand's largest commercial port, handling large consignments of timber from the forested regions of the island's interior.
The Bay of Plenty is a popular holiday destination due to the warm and sunny summer climate and public beaches. Whale watching has become a popular attraction as the number of whales such as blue whales and humpback whales migrating into bay waters began to recover.