'Discover, Explore and Connect' with your backyard

Active Voice
with Catherine McCullogh
Sport BOP Community Manager

With the weather improving, now's the time to move from the ‘winter hibernation' phase and get out and about, enjoy the fresh air, do some physical activity and as a positive consequence, improve our mood, health and wellbeing!

But where to start when considering options and deciding what to do?

Sport Bay of Plenty, in partnership with the Department of Conservation and local councils, has developed the Virtually on Track website, a one-stop shop to learn about the region and its outdoor adventure recreational options.

The Bay of Plenty has many stunning parks, beaches and reserves, which display incredible scenery and offer no cost activities suitable for all fitness levels. Whether you want to do something by yourself or get together with friends and family, there is something for you within a couple of hours drive.

There are gorgeous white sandy beaches stretching from the secluded Orokawa Bay north of Waihi Beach to the sunny spot of Opotiki, numerous stunning lakes nestled around Rotorua, luscious native bush and unique forests including Whakarewarewa (the Redwoods), Otanewainuku, and Motu, and regional parks boasting their own uniqueness including Papamoa Hills and Ohiwa Harbour. It really is all here right on our doorstep.

The website www.virtuallyontrack.co.nz categorises our outdoor spaces in to eight Gem Sites, and you can search for information based on the location you want to explore or the activity you'd like to do.

For a quick snapshot, there are brief videos of each location showcasing the array of options on offer. Whether you're to walk, kayak, mountain bike or have a go at one of the other many activities profiled, you can find out how long the activity should take, what level of fitness is required, what to bring, and all other relevant details.

In addition, there are family-friendly games that can be played across all the sites, including ‘Join the Gems' and ‘Colour Quest' – all instructions and playing information can be found on the ‘Get Virtual' page.

Through the website, you will also see links to our Facebook page where unique adventure recreation events and activities are profiled, and where you can share your experiences. We want to spread the word and inspire others to get out and about on these gems, yet we often get feedback that people didn't know these places existed. Don't let this be you; visit the website and start exploring what we have to offer in the beautiful Bay of Plenty.

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The moon peeping through the clouds at Pillans Point. Photo: Mike Berry.

Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. kendra@thesun.co.nz