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Heritage is something possessing historical, archaeological, ecological, architectural, aesthetic, scientific, spiritual, cultural, social, or traditional significance or of special interest.  Heritage places help us to identify where we have come from, who we are today and where we are going.

Further information

The Bay of Plenty has a wealth of both cultural and natural heritage places. Many of these sites are recognised to have national value while others are internationally significant.

Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage is a combination of all those things which together give us our identity as New Zealanders. It includes things of aesthetic, social, educational and historic value such as

  • pa sites
  • waahi tapu
  • heritage trails and military roads
  • landing places associated with early settlement
  • constructions such as jetties, wharves, dams, etc
  • wrecks of vessels
  • buildings and places associated with early history or which are representative of certain periods or styles
  • gardens
  • cemeteries
  • archaeological sites
  • places used for education, research and recreation

Natural Heritage

Natural heritage includes natural features, from landforms like Mauao (Mount Maunganui) to the ecosystems which contain the flora and fauna like the totara, kahikatea and the kokako.

Landforms and Landscapes

The natural heritage in the Bay of Plenty is strongly influenced by water and includes lakes, rivers, harbours, estuaries, wetlands and a long varied coastline e.g. Motu River, Tauranga Harbour and Rotorua Lakes.

Geothermal resources are also very much a feature of the region's natural heritage including volcanoes, geysers, thermal waters, and mud pools e.g. Mt Tarawera and White Island (Whakaari).

Landforms such as mountain ranges, volcanic plateaux and coastal plains contribute to the diversity of the area.


Significant areas of native forests, wetlands, rivers, dunes, scrub and estuaries are heritage features in their own right while many are important as sites of importance for ecological reasons as well.

These areas are home to unique, rare and endangered animals and plants which are an integral part of the Bay of Plenty and New Zealand heritage. A well-known example is Te Urewera and there are many small areas on private land are important for survival of plants and animals.