Bay of Plenty

This article is about the bay in New Zealand. For the adjacent region, see Bay of Plenty Region.
Bay of Plenty (Te Moana-a-Toi)
The Bay of Plenty seen from Whakatane. The Whakatane River (foreground) is one of eight major rivers that empty into the bay.
Country New Zealand
Part of Pacific Ocean
 - left Raukokore River, Kereu River, Haparapara River
Motu River, Hawai River, Waioeka River
 - right Waiotahe River, Whakatane River, Rangitaiki River
Tarawera River, Kaituna River, Wairoa River
Wainui River, Aongatete River, Otahu River
Wentworth River, Wharekawa River
City Tauranga
Location in the North Island of New Zealand

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.[1]

The name "Bay of Plenty" originated with the English explorer James Cook during his 176970 exploration of New Zealand, who noted the abundant resources in the area. In the 1830s, Europeans began to settle in the area.[2]

On 5 October 2011, the MV Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef in the bay causing a large oil spill,[3][4] described as New Zealand's worst ever environmental disaster.[5]


Pukehina Beach

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.[6]

Sizeable harbours are located at Tauranga, Whakatane and Ohiwa. Major estuaries include Maketu, Little Waihi, Whakatane, Waiotahe 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.[7]

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 Port of Tauranga is the hub of economic activity in the region.

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.[8]


  1. McKinnon, Malcolm (2007-09-27). "Bay of Plenty". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 20 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
  2. "Bay of Plenty History". New Zealand Tourism Guide. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  3. "Tauranga incident response update". Maritime New Zealand. 5 October 2011. Archived from the original on 18 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  4. "M/V Rena Information". Costamare Inc. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-12.
  5. "'Worst ever environmental disaster'". New Zealand Herald. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  6. "Our Coast". Environment Bay of Plenty. Archived from the original on 16 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
  7. "Our Region". Environment Bay of Plenty. Archived from the original on 18 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-03.

Coordinates: 37°40′S 177°00′E / 37.667°S 177.000°E / -37.667; 177.000

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