Tauranga is located at the head of a large harbour which extends along the western Bay of Plenty, and is protected by Matakana Island. The town and headland of Mount Maunganui stand at the entrance to the harbour, five kilometres north of Tauranga. "The Mount", as it is known, is often regarded as a satellite town of Tauranga, although it is technically a suburb. Its is one of the major resort cities in New Zealand, famous for its beautiful beaches.
The name Tauranga comes from Maori, it roughly translates to "a sheltered anchorage".
Due to its sheltered position on the east coast, Tauranga enjoys a warm, dry climate. This has made it a popular location to retire to. During the summer months the population swells as the holidaymakers descend on the city.
Much of the countryside surrounding Tauranga is horticultural land, used to grow a wide range of fresh produce for both domestic consumption and export. The area is particularly well known for growing tangelos (a grapefruit / tangerine cross) and kiwifruit. The Port of Tauranga also experiences brisk but seasonal shipping traffic and is a regular stop off for both container ships and luxury cruise liners.
If you are coming from Auckland you will have to follow the Southern Motorway and State Highway 1, until the State Highway 2 exit. This takes you direct to Tauranga via Ngatea, Paeroa and Waihi. It is a distance of 200km.
InterCity , New Zealand's national bus network, operates multiple daily services to Tauranga from North Island locations including Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua. Tickets start from $1 (+ booking fee) and can be purchased online, over the phone or at numerous booking agents including the i-SITE network.
'ManaBusoffer bus services to Tauranga several times a day from Auckland and Hamilton at great value, with fares starting at $1.
Naked Bus  offers daily departures to most North Island locations, including Waitomo Caves, with fares starting at $1.
TwinCity Express , part of the local public transportation system, run a twice-daily bus from Rotorua to central Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.
Centrally located in the Bay of Plenty and home to a deep water harbor, the Port of Tauranga is a popular cruise hub with over 85 ships per year. The cruise port itself is actually located in the township of Mt. Maunganui, a laid back beach town which is 7km from the streets of downtown Tauranga.
From the cruise ship dock at Salisbury Wharf, it’s only a five-minute walk into Mt. Maunganui. Many cruise lines also provide shuttles to the town’s i-SITE visitor center, and all of the attractions in Mt. Maunganui are within a ten-minute radius of the cruise port.
In order to reach the city of Tauranga, you can ride the public BayBus Routes 1 or 2 with direct service from Mount Maunganui to Tauranga CBD. Leaving relatively frequently from the Port's i-SITE visitor centre on Salisbury Ave, the bus costs $3 one-way, and it takes 20 minutes to get to the middle of the Tauranga CBD. You should get off at the Tauranga CBD i-SITE visitor centre and, from there, all of Tauranga's top attractions, shopping and dining options are within a 15-minute walk. Alternatively, you can take a taxi (~$20) for the ten minutes ride to Tauranga. Or, if you would prefer to hop back on a boat, there is a ferry service between Salisbury Wharf and the Tauranga waterfront which is run by Tauranga Water Transport.
The Tauranga cruise port is also convenient for day trips to Rotorua, where steaming geysers and geothermal wonders create a fascinating, otherworldly landscape. To reach Rotorua, many cruise lines offer shore excursions which provide transport for the one-hour journey.
The first place a visitor should go to is the Tauranga i-SITE Visitor Information Centre, 95 Willow St in the heart of the Tauranga CBD for local tourist information, maps, bookings, and tickets. From there, most of Tauranga's top attractions, shopping and dining options are within a 15-minute walk. The free Tauranga City Walkways pamphlet (from the i-SITE) details walks around Tauranga and Mt Maunganui.
Bayhopper Bus Tauranga has a reliable Bayhopper bus system which services the Tauranga, Mt Maunganui, Papamoa & surrounding areas. Cash fares (Aug 2015) are $3.20. for an adult, or $1.90 for a concession, and these tickets are valid for any transfer within 60 minutes of issue. A Daysaver pass costs $7.40/$5.30, and allows travel on any bus for the day of purchase. If you plan on using the buses a lot, investing in a SmartRide card may be a good idea. These cost $10 and are available from the bus driver, or the central Tauranga i-Site, and save you 20% on single-ride fares.
Ferry A ferry system runs Wednesday - Sunday between Salisbury Wharf in Mount Maunganui, and The Strand in the CBD, departing the CBD at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm, and departing Salisbury Wharf at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. Fares are $10 for adults and $5 for concession.
In the summer most holiday makers travel to "The Mount" to make the most of the beautiful beaches and the great surf. The waters off the coast of Tauranga also are good fishing areas. It also has a good selection of beautiful walks.
There are two main shopping centres in the Tauranga region - Bayfair at 'The Mount' and central Tauranga, or 'town'
People in Tauranga love to eat out. There is a large selection of restaurants to eat at, especially on 'The Strand', which is regarded as the restaurant central of Tauranga.
As with eating, people in Tauranga love cafes. You will also find numerous pubs around the area. A double spirit will cost $6-7.
'The Strand' is the main area for Tauranga's nightlife consisting of a strip of bars, clubs and restaurants.
Various Backpacker/Hostel type accommodation is available in Tauranga.