Te Puke's warm climate and fertile volcanic soils make it a very horticultural district, allowing it to grow a wide variety of citrus fruit such as lemons and oranges, in addition to kiwifruit. The town markets itself as the "Kiwifruit capital of the world," and is the centre of an industry which supplies a large percentage of the total world production of the fruit. Livestock are also farmed, notably dairy cattle. The surrounding area contains many pip-fruit and avocado orchards, and supporting these forms the backbone of the region's economy. Many locals also commute to nearby Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.
Tauranga Eastern Link
The new SH 2 Tauranga Eastern Link toll road will open in August 2015 (exact date to be confirmed), bypassing Te Puke. When it opens, you will need to exit at Domain Road (Papamoa) coming from Tauranga, and at the Paengaroa roundabout coming from Rotorua and Whakatane to access the town.
Drive southeast from Tauranga on State Highway 2, or take one of the Bayhopper buses from Tauranga, Mt. Maunganui, or Rotorua. Shuttle buses are also available that will get you to Auckland airport, although the firms operating these (and the tariffs they charge) seem to change quite regularly.
There is no public transport to speak of within the town itself, though the local Bayhopper buses pass through regularly.
- Comvita Honey Tour, 23 Wilson Road South, Paengaroa (drive 9 km southeast of Te Puke on State Highway 2 and then fork right on SH33), ☏ , toll-free: 0800 493 782, fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Visitor Centre: M-F 08:30-17:00, Sa-Su 09:30-16:00. Tour through the honey and health product manufacturing facilities of Comvita. Their Manuka Honey bars are yummy and you should try some delicious honey flavoured Kapiti ice cream too; interesting visitors centre as well.
- 1 Kiwi360 (6 km south of Te Puke on State Highway 2), ☏ , fax: . An interesting look at the local kiwifruit industry, offering orchard tours, a good cafe, and a good souvenir shop.
Go swimming on the local beaches at Papamoa (9 km north-east on State Highway 2, then turn right following road signs), or Maketu (Drive east 6 km on State Highway 2, then follow the signs north). Pristine, unspoiled beaches.
- Kiwifruit Country, 316 State Highway, Paengaroa (5 km south of Te Puke on State Highway 2), ☏ . Farm tours and kiwifruit wine tasting.
- Golf Te Puke, Cnr State Highway 2/State Highway 29 (7 min drive south of Te Puke, at the turn-off to Whakatane), ☏ . Lovely 18 hole challenging, but easy walking, course. Superb playing conditions and reasonable green fees. Bar and catering on most days. Caravan and mobile home sites. Pro Shop. Test yourself against their famous - or infamous - black tees.
There is usually seasonal work available in the kiwifruit industry provided your visa status permits you to work (this is often checked by potential employers). Peak season for picking and packing is from late April through to June. The work can be physically hard but pays a reasonable wage for labour (by New Zealand standards) and is not difficult.
There are cafes and restaurants on Jellicoe St (State Highway 2 as it goes through Te Puke), all offering reasonable to good food. In addition to the many take-out businesses offering pizza, gyros, a variety of Asian food, and the ubiquitous New Zealand fish and chips, Jellicoe St has a good Indian restaurant (the Mini Punjab) and a few bars that also double as restaurants.
- Te Puke Hotel, ☏ . A reasonably good restaurant and bar.
- The Trading Post Cafe, cnr Hall and Wilson Roads (5 km south of Te Puke on State Highway 2), ☏ . Has a very good reputation locally, offering high quality meals from brunch through to a late dinner.
- Mini Punjab Restaurant, ☏ . Indian food at reasonable prices.
- Sushi 1st, 84 Jellicoe St (near the main cross walk on Jellicoe St), ☏ . Good NZ-style sushi, with an emphasis on avocado, salmon, and chicken.
- Vesey's Restaurant, 50 Jellicoe St, ☏ . Good Indian food, takeout food also available.
- Seaside Cafe & Restaurant, 2 Townpoint Rd, Maketu, ☏ . Seafood restaurant with an attached fish and chip takeaway. Excellent food. $20+.
There are bars and pubs on Jellicoe St, although the nightlife is far better in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui.
There are 2 reasonable camping grounds within easy driving distance that offer a cheaper alternative to staying in a motel. Motels in Te Puke may be a lower cost alternative to those in Tauranga or Rotorua, and the town's location between the two areas makes it a reasonable choice if you are planning to explore the Bay of Plenty.
- Beacon Motel, 173 Jellicoe St, SH2 (across from the railway station), ☏ . $85+.
- Junction Motel, 246 State Highway 33, Paengaroa (about 5 km south of Te Puke on State Highway 2), ☏ , fax: . $105.
- Princess Street apartment, 7 Princess St, ☏ . Serviced apartment, in a quiet urban area of Te Puke. $90.