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 Māori 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. The classic trek is 1½ hours, through forest farmland and streams ($85), or you could start gentle on a 30 minute pony ride (NZ$35). There are many other options - 3 and 4 hour rides, early morning, evening glowworms ride or the 'Maori Bread and Billy Tea Trek'. 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. 0274/062-477. www.briarshorsetrek.co.nz. $850 for standard 1½ hr ride, other options available.
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 or healthy, 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. 6 Little Waihi Rd., Maketu, Tauranga, 3118. 0800/367–7437. www.maketupies.co.nz. Mon.–Fri. 7:30–3:30.
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 to take time out and enjoy the superslow pace of Maketu. It's not high end—what's different here is the local quirkiness and historic location. The café sits on the shore where one of the migratory canoes, Te Aarawa, landed several hundred years ago, and there are monuments here to remember this and other early history. The café also serves takeout, 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.