We explored nearby areas today. Starting with the town that our accommodation sits above, Maketu. A town of under 1500 people (over 65% Maori) has a local, quiet, calm, non-touristy vibe. It sits between the Maketu estuary of the Kaituna river and Okurei Pt., the historic Maori Pa site overlooking the beach. Maketu is the historic landing site of the Arawa, one of the pioneer canoes of the Maori that left their homeland of “Hawaiki” between 800-1000 years ago, and landed in New Zealand or Aotearoa (loosely translated as ‘land of the long white cloud’) as they named it. The Te Arawa confederation of Maori iwi (tribes) and hapu (subtribes) living in the Rotorua and Bay of Plenty areas trace their ancestry from the people of this canoe.
After checking out the only store in town, a tiny but surprisingly well stocked convenience store (or ‘Dairy’ as they are called here) we continued our tour of the area. We drove backroads for about 15 minutes to the Kaituna Scenic Wetlands Reserve, at the west end of the Maketu estuary, where the Kaituna river empties into the Bay of Plenty.