Bay of Plenty : Tauranga
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. Tauranga also has a domestic airport with regular Air New Zealand  direct flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Naked Bus  offers daily departures to most North Island locations, including Waitomo Caves, with fares starting at $1.
Intercity Coachlines  also stop in downtown Tauranga en route from numerous parts of New Zealand.
TwinCity Express , part of the local public transportation system, run a twice-daily bus from Rotorua to central Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.
Bus Tauranga has a bus system which services the Tauranga, Mt Maunganui, Papamoa & surrounding areas. Most people do rely on their own vehicles, although the bus service is very reliable. Cash fares are $3 for an adult, or $1.80 for a concession, and these tickets are valid for any transfer within 60 minutes of issue. A Daysaver pass costs $7/$5, 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.
BayHopper Bus Time Tables: 
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.