To say Whitianga, in marvellous Mercury Bay, is a popular seaside holiday resort, is an understatement.

Whitianga is much more – an iconic kiwi town that holds a significant place in our nation’s history. Polynesian explorer Kupe landed near here in AD800 when moa birds were still strutting their stuff in the sandunes. British navigator Captain James Cook observed the transit of the planet Mercury in this very bay in 1769.

Attractive Buffalo Beach, the main frontage to Whitianga, takes its name from HMS Buffalo, wrecked here in 1840. The Ferry Landing opposite the town wharf is an important part of the town’s heritage, dating from early colonial times.

With this solid background one would think that Whitianga had had its day. In fact the town’s mercury is rising very rapidly in the popularity stakes. The population of 4,000 swells to 30,000 holiday makers at the seasonal peak, straining the town’s resources.

Whitianga is popular with anyone and everyone who has a penchant for water sports, recreational boating, dolphin swimming, fishing, diving, big-game fishing, eco-cruises and charters. The waters around the Mercury Islands are teeming with fish. This is simply one of New Zealand’s most idyllic marine playgrounds. Whitianga Waterways is a new development where boat owners can tie up at their own private jetty – the ultimate in lifestyle luxury.

Land-based activities are equally diverse, with a range of bush and beach walks, horse-riding, guided tours, quad biking, 4WD rides and golf. Bone carving instruction is available on a three hour training course during which you can carve your own tiki.

Scenic locations abound in Mercury Bay, notably Cathedral Cove Scenic Reserve (stunning formations), Hot Water Beach (dig your own spa pool), Hahei Marine Reserve, Gemstone Bay, Cook’s Beach and Shakespeare Bluff.

Whitianga has a sophisticated mix of cafes, shops and seafood restaurants (try the mussels and scallops) and a wide range of good places to stay.

If you seek a holiday resort offering family fun, marine adventure or romance and relaxation, Whitiangi has it all. Caves, coves, cathedrals and cappuccinos are just the start and there’s some of the best coastal boating and kayaking on the planet.