Our ship came into the vicinity of Tauranga and docked at the foot of Mt. Maunganui. On the left is a shot of the small peak and you can see the bow of the ship in the upper right. Behind our ship stretched a large harbor area with docks filled with containerized freight. Looking toward Maunganui and the little village at its base, you would not imagine that you are in a major industrial and shipping center in New Zealand.


The stretch of land between the mountain and the mainland is narrow and forms a peninsula with sweeping beaches. In this picture we are east of the ship and across the Maunganui village. All along the beach are found hotels and apartment buildings like the one in this picture. They are neat, clean and a short walk away from bright blue sea.


We got away from the crowds and tours of the ship and contracted with a driver for a tour. The coastal area here is very inviting and the beaches are pristine. No homes or hotels front on the water. The beaches belong to all the people.


Not far from Tauranga was a place called Te Puke (tay POOH-kay), the "kiwi capital of the world."

The kiwi is emblematic of New Zealand. But, of course, "kiwi" can refer either to an animal or a fruit. Te Puke is the center for kiwi, the fruit.

The fruit was first grown for commercial export in the 1950s. Originally known as "Chinese gooseberries," the name was changed to make it more marketable in the US. NZ growers simply called it "kiwifruit," and the name has stuck as simply "kiwi."


At a place called Kiwi360, a visitor and information center, we got to see the famous fruit actually growing.

And, of course, we got to sample some of the product - off the vine, as slices, as a juice, and as ice cream!


The kiwi center even has a kiwi tram to transport visitors around the vineyard. Kiwi vines are male and female, with one male plant required for 8 or 9 females. The vine supports must be very sturdy to support the tons of fruit that will grow on each vine. Tommy Valenta held some of the growing fruit buds in his hand.

Close Map