Tauranga, population approx. 130,000 (last census was cancelled due to the Christchurch earthquake) is the major city of the western Bay of Plenty on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is the fifth largest city in the country, and is 105 km east of Hamilton and 85 km north of Rotorua, and about 20 km north of Te Puke.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tauranga Art Gallery corner Wharf and Willow Sts, 10am - 4:30pm, is one of New Zealand’s newest and most respected regional public galleries. Since opening in 2007, it has consistently delivered high quality exhibitions within its contemporary gallery space located in the heart of Tauranga’s CBD. Touring the ground floor and mezzanine galleries will take an hour or so. FREE admission. Donations appreciated.
White Island, New Zealand
White Island - is an active volcano which is biding its time to erupt (New Zealand’s only live maritime volcano). Before stepping on the island, tourists are issued hardhats and gas masks. It is necessary to wear mask because fumes on White Island can affect some people - with headaches or nausea. At the ancient dock of the Island one has to climb along steel ladders and then walk along a concrete wharf, over a rusting steel bridges and then clamber over rocks before you find yourself before a live volcano.
Mauao - A small mountain to climb with fantastic views of Mt Maunganui and Tauranga area and coastlines. Mount Maunganui shares its name with the beach-side town it's located in. A circular path at the foot of the volcanic cone offers views of the harbour, the ocean and the town and takes about 40 minutes to walk. Strollers and weelchairs accessible. The walkways up to the top of the hill are just a bit more challenging.
Longridge Farm - Te Puke
Marshalls Farm - Omokaroa
Te Puna Quarry Park (previously a quarry but turned into a park through voulenteer work) - Te Puna
Mount Maunganui, . "As New Zealand's Surf City, Mount Maunganui's beaches are great for surfing and diving, with large numbers of visitors wanting to experience the laid-back summery atmosphere."edit
Looking Over Hobbiton, Matamata
Located about an hour from Tauranga, near the town of Matamata in Waikato, the Hobbiton movie set provides a fun and fascinating experience of this famous location in the Lord of the Rings films.
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.
Katikati Bird Gardens, Walker Road East (25 mins drive north of Tauranga off State High Way 2), ☎ 07 549 0912, . 10AM-4:30PM. Lovely old established gardens on the edge of the inner Tauranga harbour. Mostly formal with wetlands area and walk. Golf cart tours and hire. Great café. Native birds on display including the NZ Kea.from $5. edit
The Kiwi Asylum, 386 Papamoa Beach Road (Tauranga), ☎ +64 7 218 0355, 027 2732 544, . Dirtsurfing is for the adrenaline junkie in all of us. All that is needed is a willingness to try this inline board sport.Only your imagination will limit what you can do with your Dirtsurfer. A Dirtsurfer is like a combination of a skateboard and a bike molded into one.edit
Gyrate, 16 Dakota Way (Tauranga Airport), ☎ 0800 359 249, . Experience the motorbike of the sky. Trial flights and flight training available at New Zealand's only professional gyroplane flying school.edit
There are two main shopping centres in the Tauranga region - Bayfair at 'The Mount' and central Tauranga, or 'town'
Waimarino (Kayak and Adventure Park), 36 Taniwha Place, Bethlehem, . Nestled in native bush on the riverside, Waimarino has a huge range of outdoor activities suitable for winter and summer. Waimarino is best known for the famous evening glow worm kayak tours. There are also daytime river and sea kayaking, rock climbing, the 'Blob' and plenty more.edit
Paper Plane, 99 Maunganui Road, Mount Maunganui, ☎ +64 7 575 7505, . A modern furniture shop featuring locally designed and crafted products. Lots of wood-based products, but also nice prints and small souvenirs. If you want to buy something to remember your trip to Mount Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty, why not give the usual souvenirs a miss and buy something you'll actually enjoy for some time!edit
Providores, 19A Pacific Ave, Mt Maunganui, 3116, New Zealand, ☎ +64 7-572 1300. Open for breakfast and lunch, Providores is an excellent choice when in the Mount. Order your craving at the bar and take a seat in one of the comfy lounge chairs while watching surf videos on the wall. Child seats are available.edit
Slow Fish, 1 Marine Parade, Mt Maunganui 3116, New Zealand, ☎ +64 7-574 2949, . Located on the beachfront street of Mount Maunganui, Slow Fish has great coffee and offers healthy lunch salads made to order. If you're in a hurry, take your pick from the cabinet. Enjoy your choice of food and drink while watching the surf in front of you.edit
Various Backpacker/Hostel type accommodation is available in Tauranga.
Just The Ducks Nuts Backpackers, 6 Vale Street, Phone:+64 7 576 1366 (email:email@example.com), . Located in the Otumoetai/Pillans Point area a 20-25 min walk or short bike from downtown Tauranga.
YHA Tauranga Hostel, 171 Elizabeth Street, Tauranga. Phone: +64 7 578 506. . Located close to the city, only a 5-10 min walk.
Genevieves Garage, 2/30 Miro Street, Mount
Harbourside City Backpackers Tauranga, 105 The Strand Tauranga, Phone: +64 7 579 4066, (email: firstname.lastname@example.org), . Located right in amongst the main restaurant, pub and clubbing area.
The Sebel Trinity Wharf Tauranga, 51 Dive Crescent, ☎ 64 7 577 8700, . Stylish 4.5 star North Island hotel in New Zealand. Superb New Zealand accommodation in the heart of Tauranga with Harbour views.edit