Maketu History

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Maketu History

Maketu history begins with the first human settlers arriving in New Zealand (Aotearoa) round 1350a.d. when the Te Arawa canoe landed many Maori settled in Maketu while some continued their journey inland using the Kaituna River as far as Rotorua. In 1769 the Britsh explorer Caption James Cook sailed passed Maketu shortly following Cook’s arrival in New Zealand, whalers, trader , and missionaries began to arrive. And the prosperous Maori settlement of maketu was in their sight. The abundant fishing grounds, easy access to timber and flax, and rich in agricultural land made Maketu a prime location.

Maketu is named after the ancient kumera (sweet potato) pit in Hawaiki, the mythical place where, according to Maori oral tradition, the M?ori sailed from.

History of Papamoa Hills

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History of Papamoa Hills

Papamoa Hills Regional Park was New Zealand’s first regional park opened outside of wellington and Auckland, the attraction is the seven historic pa sites that dot the hills. Known as Te Rae o Papamoa to the Maori translated to ‘the forehead of the woman who is the hills’ with the peak of the hills reaching 224 metres above sea level offering good views in all directions making this area strategically important to the local tribes, making it possible to control the south-eastern access to Tauranga Moana and the coastal strip down to Maketu.

Karangaumu Pa, at the summit of the hills, was a defensive pa. "In times of attack and battles when it used to be heavily occupied and there'd be over 2000 warriors here." One of the other pas, Patangata (towards the ocean from the summit), was where the women and children would head in times of battle.

With the Western Bay of Plenty being a food basket, Maori settlement began in Papamoa around the 1400s, where for the next 300 years the people prospered, harvesting their crops and fisheries, occupying and abandoning sites in accordance with the kumara cycle and soil fertility.

Today Papamoa Hills has over 80,000 visitors every year with the walking track passing through pine forest up to the open ridge. 

The Legend of Mauao

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The Legend of Mauao 


There was once a hill with no name who lived on the edge of the Hautere forest. This nameless was a pononga (slave) to the great chiefly mountain, Otanewainuku. To the southwest was the shapely form of Puwhenua, a beautiful hill, clothed in all the fine greens of the ferns and shrubs and trees of the forest of Tane.

The nameless one was desperately in love with Puwhenua. However, her heart already belonged to Otanewainuku. There seemed like no hope for the lowly slave. In despair the nameless one decided to end it all by drowning himself in the Pacific Ocean, Te Moananui a Kiwa. Calling on the patupaiarehe, the people with magical powers who dwelled in the forests of Hautere, pononga asked them to plait the ropes with their magic and then haul him down towards the ocean. Chanting their song they began to haul the nameless one slowly towards the water, gouging out the valley where the river Waimapu now flows. They followed the channel past Hairini, past Maungatapu and Matapihi and finally past Te Papa to the water's edge.

By this time it was very close to day break. The sun rose fixing the nameless one to that place. Being people of the night, the patupaiarehe fled back to the shady depths of the Hautere forests, before the light of the sun descended upon them.

The patupaiarehe gave the name Mauao to this mountain which marks the entrance of Tauranga Moana. This means caught by the morning sun. In time, he has assumed greater mana than his rival Otanewainuku. Today he is known by many as Mount Maunganui, however to the Maori people he is still known as Mauao. 

The Story of Mount Tarawera

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The Story of Mount Tarawera

Before 10 June Eruption

Humans from all around the world would come in crowds to see the legendary Pink and White Terraces – once named the 8th wonder of the world. Although it was a long journey, they couldn’t get enough of what they saw making this area a tourism “hot spot” so, in 1873, hotels were built to house the visitors coming near and far, it has been estimated that the annual income for village residents reached £4000 each during these times.

The Eruption

In the early hours of 10 June, people awoke to earthquakes, lighting, and fountains of molten lava and columns of smoke and ash that rose as high as 10 km. The eruption lasted six hours and caused enormous destruction with approximately 120 people losing their life. 17 km - long rift split Mt Tarawera continued as far as Waimangu, covering the land with millions of tonnes of ash and debris, an entire village was buried known today as the buried village which is a popular tourist attraction. Lakes were changed, bushes were crushed and a new geothermal valley was created with the eruption of Mt Tarawera being recorded the largest in New Zealand where the roar of the eruption could be heard as far as Christchurch!

The legend of Mt Tarawera – The Phantom Canoe

The story begins in the eerie shadow of Mt Tarawera, with its “burnt peak” where the mountain casts a ghostly shadow in the wintry sun. Despite the eeriness of that morning, the accounts from eyewitnesses aboard the tourist vessel were all clear and consistent.

"The watchers had no difficulty in discerning the phantom craft's double row of occupants, one row paddling and the other standing wrapped in flax robes, their heads bowed and, according to Maori eyewitnesses, their hair plumed as for death with the feathers of the huia and the white heron. To the terrified Maori aboard the tourist vessel, these were the souls of the departed being ferried to the mountain of the dead. But all local Maori knew there was no war canoe on the lake, and no such craft, ever existed.
If not for multiple eyewitness accounts and evidence, the story of the phantom canoe would have remained just another story of embellishment or legend." --- Ronald Jones 


Tarawera Today

Today, Lake Tarawera is oneof 18 clean and pristine lakes in the Rotorua region among charming scenery and lies underneath the remarkable Mount Tarawera itself. Several walking tracks surround lake Tarawera, including the spectacular Tarawera Falls, plunging 65 meters down the cliff face that was believed to be shaped from the poring larva of the Tarawera eruption. 

Globally Explosive - New Zealand’s World-Famous Volcanology

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Here at Aerius Helicopters we’re big on volcanos – and not just because of their explosive qualities. We live and breathe volcanic speak. Our country’s rich and diverse tectonic roots and eruptive activity not only provide us with clues about our ancestors and genealogy, but also position us high up on the global stage. We’re a volcanic nation through and through, here’s why:

Most Active and Exclusive

White Island is not only New Zealand’s most active volcano, scientists predict it has most probably been active since the arrival of our Maori ancestors between 1250–1300 AD. Today, White Island is one of the few privately owned volcanoes in the world. After a series of changing hands throughout the 1800s, White Island was purchased by stockbroker Raymond Buttle in 1936. Today, the Buttle Family Trust owns the island.

Most Explosive

New Zealand can lay claim to the world’s largest known eruption in the past 70,000 years. Taupo’s Oruanui eruption occurred approximately 26,500 years ago, depositing over 1000 kilometres of volcano materials – much of central North Island was 200 metres deep in ignimbrite. Ash fall affected the entire country, even spreading as far as the Chatham Islands which are located 1000 kilometres away from the eruption zone.

Most Damaging

The Land of Milk and Honey – as New Zealand is fondly known – was once home to the eighth wonder of the world – Lake Rotomahana’s famous Pink and White terraces. Mount Tarawera’s eruption on June 10th 1886 spread 16,000 kilometres of ash and debris, destroying the terraces and three villages. The stunning terraces had formed naturally over 500 years from bubbling silica rich water flowing down hillsides, which cooled and crystallised at the base forming giant staircases. Local people would bath in the lower levels of the terrace-like basins where the water temperature was lukewarm. Recent scientific analysis and study has concluded that the terraces – or what remains of them – are most likely buried somewhere in the middle of the lake and not on land.

Most Productive

The Taupo Volcanic Zone isn’t just famous for its ginormous eruption of old, today it holds the title of the world’s most productive region of silicic – or igneous rich rock – volcanic activity. Stretching all the way from Mount Ruapehu through Ngauruhoe, Tongariro, Lake Taupo, through Whakamaru, through the Rotorua volcanic complex and 85 kilometres beyond White Island, the TVZ is approximately 350 kilometres long and 50 kilometres in width.

If you're interested in experiencing the natural beauty of White Island, check out our White Island flight and flight and tours.

White Island a Must on Your New Zealand Travel Itinerary

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Sputtering, steaming, stunning White Island is undoubtedly one of the NZ’s top travel destinations. Set off the east coast of New Zealand close to Tauranga, there are only two ways of accessing White Island – air or sea. We reckon any trip to the Bay of Plenty isn’t complete without a helicopter flight to White Island, and here’s why:

It’s NZ’s Most Active Volcano

As a nation of volcanoes, every visitor to New Zealand should see a volcano during their travels. And if you’re going to see one, why not make it NZ’s most active volcano? With around 35 eruptions since 1826, White Island is the most roaring, steaming, breathing volcano in the country, and that’s pretty damn cool!

Scenic Views

The sights of the Bay of Plenty from above are out of this world. By taking a helicopter flight from Tauranga to White Island, you get a bird’s eye view of Mount Maunganui before heading over to White Island where you’ll be amazed by the rugged crater lake, dramatic landscape and bubbling mud.

Learn About Geothermal

There are few places in the world where you can witness the natural wonder of geothermal activity first-hand. If you decide to do the helicopter flight and guided tour, you’ll also hear fascinating commentary and even get the chance to walk on the volcano itself.

Experience a Helicopter Ride

If you haven’t been on a chopper before, it’s definitely something to add to your bucket list. Unlike flying on a plane, helicopter flights let you get much closer to the action and give you vista views of the surrounding scenery. Whether you’re a first-timer or a helicopter veteran, it’s an experience like no other.

Walk on the Moon – Sort Of

With its rocky landscape, craters, steam and sulphur-green lakes, walking on White Island can feel like walking on the moon. And since you have to wear a gas mask and hard hat while on the island, you’ll feel like a true astronaut!

A Piece of NZ History

If you are a history buff, all the more reason to venture out to White Island. Early on, it was a significant site of seabirds and sulphur for Maori; it was discovered and named by Captain Cook; then in the 1880s, Europeans started mining White Island for sulphur. Take the helicopter flight and tour if you want to walk amongst the sulphur mine’s corroded ruins.

See Wildlife

There’s no guarantee, but seeing wildlife in the deep blue sea below the helicopter is not unusual. Travellers on the helicopter flight to White Island have seen dolphins, seals, whales, schools of fish and plenty of birds.

Bang for your Buck

It isn’t cheap, but the helicopter flight trips from Tauranga to White Island are great value for money. We’re going to go out on a limb and claim that a White Island helicopter trip isn’t only the best tour in the Bay of Plenty, but in all of NZ! 

Discover the Sacred History of Mount Tarawera

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One cold starlit night in 1886, the earth around Rotorua began to shake. By around 2:30 am Mount Tarawera's three peaks had split open and were launching tonnes of ash, mud and molten rock over the surrounding landscape. Eyewitnesses later reported that a huge column of fire was seen shooting up into the air with a roar that was heard as far away as Auckland and Christchurch.

One of this country's earliest tourist attractions, the spectacular Pink and White Terraces were on the shores of Lake Rotomahana, below Mt Tarawera. The terraces were the two largest formations of silica sinter – a fine-grained version of quartz – ever known to have existed. They were extraordinarily beautiful and often referred to as "the Eighth Wonder of the World".

Tour of Mt Tarawera

Following the eruption, many villages were completely buried with few or no survivors. It is estimated that about 150 people died. The famed Terraces were also thought to have been completely destroyed however exciting new research has found remnants of them far below the lake's surface.

Evidence of the ancient explosion's violence and power can still clearly be seen today, especially in views from the air. Many of the lakes surrounding the mountain were dramatically altered and the blast left a 17km-long gash running through the mountain. The massive rift runs southwestwards beneath the lake and beyond, creating the world's youngest geothermal area, the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Today this valley is a hotspot of incredible geothermal activity.

A scenic flight of Mt Tarawera and Rotorua lakes is the best way to get a sense of the scale of the explosion and experience nature's awesome power and beauty. Find out more about the options for helicopter tours by Aerius Helicopters, departing from Tauranga Airport.

Local Helicopter Rides a Hit with Cruise Ship Passengers

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Local Helicopter tours are a popular way for cruise ship passengers to experience Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.

The number of cruise ships visiting the Mount has been increasing dramatically over recent years. Eighty three cruise ships docked in the Port of Tauranga last season alone, making it a major player in the New Zealand cruise industry.

tauranga shore excrusions

Port visits are a big part of the cruising experience and Tauranga sells a higher number of passenger tours than any other port in the country. Most passengers choose to stay in the local vicinity of Tauranga and the Mount.

A large number of the helicopter rides offered by local flight specialists, Aerius Helicopters are taken by cruise ship passengers who like to get their bearings with an aerial view of the region before they embark on other activities.

Aerius Helicopters provide a wide range of memorable Tauranga cruise ship tour options from 12 minute buzz around the Mount and Tauranga City to a 30 minute swoop down the Bay's white beaches to Maketu and plenty more.

Flights depart from Tauranga Airport, just a short distance from the cruise ship berths and because there are plenty of short flight options, passengers can then spend the rest of the day on other local adventures.

Looking for a Half Day Tour in Tauranga?

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If you don't have much time during your Tauranga visit but still want to see as much as possible, then you should book one of the popular half day tours offered by Aerius Helicopters.

The best way to explore the region is by first taking a scenic flight. A helicopter ride gives you a birds’ eye perspective and breathtaking views of Tauranga's amazing places. The half day tours are proving particularly popular with cruise ship passengers into the Mount, looking for a Tauranga cruise ship tour and wanting to get the most out of their flying visit.

Tauranga half day tours

Local tour operators Aerius Helicopters have a wide variety of half day tours in Tauranga and beyond available. You can even customise your own. The Mount and the City takes in all the main sights, while the helicopter flight to Tarawera and Rotorua Lakes boasts some of New Zealand's most picturesque lakes and bush. Or, for an experience to remember, spice up your cruise with the ever-popular flight to White Island from Tauranga where you can land on a real volcano.

With plenty of options that take less than half a day, a scenic flight around Tauranga is an ideal way to see a lot more in less time and combine it with another half day activity - it's no wonder the tours by Aerius Helicopters are so popular! 

Looking for the Perfect Xmas Gift?

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Give the gift of a birds-eye perspective this Xmas with a gift voucher from Aerius Helicopter Tours. If you're stuck for a gift idea, a scenic helicopter tour not only offers something unique, the fantastic memories will last a lifetime.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of flight and for many, an opportunity for an adventure like this would be fulfilling a dream. Aerius Helicopters have a number of stunning tours and scenic flights to choose from, all of which can be bought as gifts.

Best Activities in Tauranga

There's no better way to appreciate the landscape around Tauranga than a 12 minute buzz over the Mount and City. Or you could tempt would-be adventurers with a White Island tour, landing on NZ's most active volcano. Take a flight to a local vineyard for a celebratory lunch - let Aerius provide the transport, leaving you free to relax, enjoy the wine and admire the view.

You don't have to be an aviation enthusiast to get a buzz out of travelling by helicopter - everyone loves the chance to see the world from the clouds. So for the most exciting gift under the Xmas tree this year, think about getting a Christmas voucher for an amazing flight with Aerius Helicopters.

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