NZ Vacation at Maketu on the East Coast of the North Island

Maketu makes an intriguing break from glitzy vacations. Although small in population, Maketu has much to offer travelers seeking a unique NZ vacation in the North Island.

The tall pyramid-shaped monument at Maketu Beach commemorates the landing of one of the great canoes of the early Maori. These voyagers of more than 1,000 years ago crossed vast ocean spaces before discovering New Zealand shores. They went on to explore the coastline and the geothermal region of the Bay of Plenty, founding tribal groups across the volcanic landscape.

Maketu is a Unique New Zealand Vacation Destination just off the Pacific Coast Highway

The turn off from the Pacific Coast Highway to Maketu could easily be missed. About 20 minutes from Mount Maunganui, take a left turn across the railway track (if this turn is missed, there’s another opportunity a few miles further on). Wind the windows down; bask in the distant smell of the ocean, the scent of wild fennel and the rich fragrance of the fruits and vegetables that thrive in this convivial climate.

With a population of only 1,240 (Bay of Plenty website) Maketu is not a shop-till-you-drop destination. It’s a place for reflection, for slow living, for lazing on the beach, paddling and dipping into the salty waters of the estuary or the open beach. It’s also the place for possibly the best fish and chips in New Zealand and the location of Maketu Pies, still based on an old-fashioned family recipe, and one of New Zealand’s tastiest edibles.

New Zealand Accommodation at Maketu – Camping, Backpackers, Motels

For a small settlement, Maketu offers a surprising assortment of accommodation. Maketu Beach Holiday Park sits on a promontory beside the estuary. The waters here are sheltered, with plenty of sandy beaches and rock pools for endless fossicking. Stay in one of the motel units, an older style chalet or a cabin directly on the beachfront.

For more mobile NZ vacationers, there are tent and campervan sites, both powered and un-powered. The Maketu Beach Holiday Park comes complete with its own café, takeaways and licensed restaurant. It’s a pleasant experience to sit on the terrace overlooking the surf with a glass of cold Chardonnay in hand – and equally as nice to hunker down on the sand and eat fish and chips out of the newspaper.

Green grass replaces golden sands at Bay Views Motel and Holiday Park 2-3km away from Maketu. Bay Views rural location offers motel-style accommodation, cabins, tent and campervan sites, shared backpackers and backpacker bungalow. Bay Views is handy to NZ tourist attractions including Comvita Honey, Adventure Park, jetboating and four-wheel driving. A swimming pool, children’s playground and trampoline make Bay Views an ideal base for day-tours. Rotorua, one of New Zealand’s main tourist attractions is about 40 minutes away.

There are no flashy hotels or motels in Maketu, and an internet search will find limited bed and breakfast accommodation. The appeal of Maketu lies in its unspoilt-ness, its scattering of baches that retain the do-it-yourself flair so rare now on the New Zealand coastline, its sense of NZ history and its authentic coastal-village atmosphere.


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