Author Archives: Dave Rayner

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. 

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.

Ever Considered a Heli-Wedding?

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Imagine exchanging your vows on a secluded beach or some other amazing, wild New Zealand location. But how would you get there? If you want to create a romantic wedding day that you'll never forget, think about booking a heli-wedding.

Heli-Weddings are an increasingly popular option for couples looking for that extra touch of adventure, glamour and exhilaration. Your wedding day is one of the most important milestones in your life so why not add to the magic of the day by travelling to a spectacular wedding location in your very own private helicopter.

heli wedding tauranga

Wherever you might choose to get married - on the shores of a tranquil lake, high on a spectacular cliff top or in a picturesque vineyard, the range and accessibility of a helicopter gives you more options for finding the wedding venue of your dreams. 

If you want your ceremony at a more conventional location, consider using the helicopter as a unique mode of wedding transport. There is no better way to really make an entrance at your wedding than by flying in and stepping out of one of our sleek, modern machines.

Then, after the vows, you and your wedding party can be whisked off to some breathtaking destination to capture the most incredible wedding photos for the two of you to look back on for years to come.

Travel by helicopter and your wedding will be something completely unique, stylish, and filled with excitement. Talk to one of our professional, friendly staff at Aerius Helicopters in Tauranga any time to discuss your wedding plans and our heli-wedding services. We'd love to be part of your amazing day and help make it full of memories that you’ll want to treasure forever. 

Experience Stunning Coromandel by Helicopter

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Treat yourself to an adventure over the stunning Coromandel peninsula. The Coromandel is famed for still having those special isolated places - the wild, untamed and unspoilt. The region's charms are no secret but its limited roading network make it one of the best places to experience from the air.

From Tauranga up to Cape Colville and the tip of Port Jackson, it's an eye poppingly beautiful scene and from the air you'll see places that are rarely visible by car. Between eclectic baches and small townships, there’s endless breathtaking coastline, green, velvety forest and sculptured bays of honey coloured sands. Flowering pohutukawa trees add bursts of crimson to the dramatic mountainous interior. And with the sweeping views available from a helicopter, you might even see all the way to Great Barrier.

scenic flight coromandel

It all makes for incredible scenery that is inaccessible to most but there to be enjoyed by air. With a scenic flight you can take advantage of the Coromandel's natural beauty, literally soaking it in while staying high above summer crowds and maddening traffic.

The region is also a foodie haven and home to a wide range of recreational attractions. Visit the Coromandel by air with an Aerius Helicopter tour and we can arrange for you to drop in for a meal and stay on for some first class fishing, kayaking, or snorkelling - or any activity you wish.

A helicopter tour of the Coromandel is a great way to get a unique and awe inspiring perspective on this slice of New Zealand paradise. If you've got any questions about scenic flights over the Coromandel, our Tauranga-based team will be delighted to help.

Tauranga the Perfect Launching Pad for Scenic Flights

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If you've never thought about taking a scenic flight from Tauranga, think again. What better way to experience the Bay of Plenty region? Tauranga is a great launching pad for scenic flights - you'll enjoy awesome views over land and water that will give you a totally different perspective on this magical place.

Get a birds’ eye view of Tauranga's famous beaches, that endless white sweep of sand from Mt Maunganui and Papamoa to Maketu peninsula and beyond. It's also the best way to see Tauranga's much loved iconic hill, Mauao. A scenic flight offers a unique opportunity to appreciate this special volcanic landform that watches over the city and sea.

Scenic flights bay of plenty

Tauranga is a convenient striking distance for scenic flights to many of New Zealand's most beautiful and exciting landscapes. There are attractions further afield such as the steaming White Island, the jewel like Rotorua Lakes and the stunning Coromandel bush and beaches that are all within easy reach of Tauranga Airport.

Whether you land on an active volcano, fly over clear blue waters or moon-like geothermal landscapes, gaze down on pristine native bush or into the expanse of an open cast gold mine, seeing these breathtaking places by air will make your Tauranga visit that extra bit special.

If you'd like more information on scenic flight options around Tauranga, get in touch with our friendly team at Aerius Helicopters.

Experience NZ's Must-Do Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

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A Hobbiton Movie Set Tour will transport you to the peaceful region of Middle-Earth where Bilbo Baggins lived and that famous quest for the ring began.

Imagine your first glimpse of the Shire is from the air, looking down at the carpet of rolling green pasture dotted with sheep and cattle, then the hobbit holes and laneways of the picturesque little village unfold below you. It's the perfect way to discover the magic of Hobbiton.

Aerius Helicopters will fly you to the Hobbiton Movie Set as one of the many extraordinary experiences they offer. Leaving from Tauranga, it's a convenient half-day trip and you get to enjoy spectacular mountain and forest views on the way.

Hobbiton movie set tour

From the moment we land, you'll be blown away by the attention to detail on the Hobbiton set, from the brightly painted doors, carved letterboxes and garden tools to the old oak Party Tree standing in the Party Field. It's all there. Sandyman's Mill stands on the edge of the pond near the double arched bridge and you must visit Bag End, home to the heroic yet humble Baggins family.

Be sure to partake of a hobbit brew at the Green Dragon Inn before you leave. Carefully recreated, it's the perfect spot to relax by the fire, drink in hand and soak up the Hobbiton atmosphere.

The guides are really well informed with all the movie trivia a fan could want so together with the beautiful setting, it's no wonder Hobbiton remains one of our most popular, must-see attractions. Contact us at Aerius Helucopters any time for more Hobbiton movie set tour information.

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