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Exploring New Zealand

Katikati Area Guide

Mural in Katikati. "Our People, our Story"
by Irene Tuscia Falconer 2002 - ©
The small country town of Katikati, 40 kilometres north west of Tauranga, once known only for its kiwifruit and avocado farms, has reinvented itself as an open-air art gallery, its once blank walls now canvases for colourful murals.

The town, on the banks of the Uretara River close to Tauranga Harbour, began commissioning murals in 1991 as a way of putting Katikati on the tourist trail. The town now has more than 35 works of art in and around the main street, ranging from murals to sculptures, carvings and woven flax tukutuku panels.

Many of the murals reflect the town's heritage as the only planned colonial settlement for immigrants from the northern Irish province of Ulster. The Katikati Heritage Museum, just south of the town on Wharawhara Road, has photographs and documents about the 19th century Ulster pioneers, as well as a mock-up of an Orange Hall on display. On its Sunday open days, you can visit the partially-restored Athenree Homestead, built by Irish settlers Hugh and Adela Stewart in 1879.

In the centre of town, the Haiku Pathway is a pleasant walking route which meanders along the river, past boulders inscribed with haiku poetry, down to a peaceful park beside the river. The Information Centre on the Main Road has a haiku scroll guide to the pathway.

The town is also a good base for water-based activities, with the long Kauri Point jetty offering a good place for fishing or swimming, and for spotting the pod of orca which regularly visits the inner northern Tauranga Harbour, the orca swimming in on the incoming tide, as they hunt for stingray.

Out of town, the Morton Estate Winery, eight kilometres south of Katikati, offers wine sales and tastings, and its Vineyard restaurant serves lunch and dinner in an airy conservatory, or outdoors.