About halfway between Tauranga and Whakatane is the small seaside village of Maketu, one of the area's least developed places and one of the first points of Maori landfall.
Briar's Horse Treks. The most highly recommended horse trekkers in the Bay of Plenty, the guides will ask for your height, approximate weight, and level of experience before assigning you to a gentle plodder or a galloping steed. The trek will take you through peaceful native forests, alongside rivers and across open farmland. Treks start at 1½ hours long, or you can go all day. Riding hats, gloves, and wet-weather gear are provided. Booking essential. They accept cash only, but you can pay through their Web site or pick up vouchers from the Tauranga Information Centre. They are located at Paengaroa, a small settlement on SH33, the main road from Tauranga to Rotorua about 35 minute's drive from Tauranga. 540 State Highway 33, Paengaroa, Te Puke, 3118. 07/533-2582. www.briarshorsetrek.co.nz. Prices start from $70 for 1½ hrs.
Maketu Pies. You'll find Maketu Pies in almost every supermarket and dairy throughout the country, but this little pie shop is where it all began. Hardly haute cuisine, the humble pie is one of New Zealand's icons—you have to at least try one. Come to the original shop, or check the website for other locations. Corner of Little Waihi and Beach Rds., Maketu, Tauranga, 3118. 07/533-3458. www.maketupies.co.nz. Mon.-Fri. 6:30-3; closed weekends.
Maketu Seaside Cafe. With a wraparound enclosed porch overlooking the beach, and a menu focused on fresh local seafood, this is as good a place as any to take time out and enjoy the superslow pace of Maketu, particularly after a morning of horse trekking. If you're staying in Maketu overnight, try the incredible Kaimoana Platter. Kaimoana means seafood, as will become obvious once the grilled King salmon, crumbed fresh fish of the day, and steamed shellfish with French fries, kawakawa aioli, and salad is placed on your table. The cafe also serves breakfasts, lunches, and takeaways, if you want a casual picnic on the beach. 2 Townpoint Rd., Maketu, Tauranga, 3118. 07/533-2381. www.seasidecafe.co.nz. No credit cards.
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