Tauranga (population 120,000) is the major city of the western Bay of Plenty on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is the sixth largest city in the country, and is 105 km east of Hamilton and 85 km north of Rotorua.
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. It 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 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.
Driving routes are State Highway 2 from Waihi, and Auckland via the scenic Karangahake Gorge; SH 29 over the Kaimai Range from the Waikato (also an option from Auckland via SH 27 onto SH 29); SH 36 from Rotorua via Pyes Pa (now sealed all the way); SH 2 from Te Puke, the western Bay of Plenty (and Rotorua via SH 33).
Tauranga Airport has 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 stop in downtown Tauranga en route from numerous parts of New Zealand.
- Marshalls Animal Park. McLaren Falls Rd.
- Te Puna Quarry Park. Quarry Road (off State Highway 2, 15 km north of Tauranga). Free, donations welcome. Previously a quarry, now turned into a park through volunteer work.
- 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."
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 min drive north of Tauranga off State Highway 2), ☎ . 10:00-16:30. 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.
- The Kiwi Asylum, 386 Papamoa Beach Rd, ☎ . , 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 moulded into one.
- Mauao or Mount Maunganui - a volcanic peak to climb with fantastic views of the suburb named after it (Mt Maunganui) and the entire Tauranga area and coastlines.
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.
- Bella Mia Pizzaria, Devonport Rd. In the same spot for over 30 years, pizza-pasta Italian restaurant.
- Bravo, Red Square. Excellent weekend brunch, lunch and dinner spot in the centre of town. Great restaurant and Cafe food
- Harbourside. Situated over the water in a historic converted yacht club
- Nazar Mediterranean Cafe & Takeaway, 332 Maunganui Road, Mount Maunganui, ☎ . Cafe & takeaway. Cuisines: Mediterranean, Turkish. Payment Options: cash, EFTPOS, Visa, MasterCard, American Express. Street side outdoor seating. $10-20.
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.
- Krazy Jacks - Alternative / rock club providing live bands - no dress standard enforced
- The Budda Lounge - Cocktail lounge with some impressive bartenders working
- Home Bar
- Coyotes - Mainstream music with dance on Saturday nights - high standard of dress
- Crown & Badger - Great pub meals
- De Bier Haus
- Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club Sulphur Point
- Mount Ocean Sports Club Pilot Bay, Mount Maunganui
Various backpacker/hostel type accommodation is available in Tauranga.
- Just The Ducks Nuts Backpackers, 6 Vale St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in the Otumoetai/Pillans Point area a 20-25 min walk or short bike from downtown Tauranga.
- YHA Tauranga Hostel, 171 Elizabeth St, ☎ . Located close to the city, only a 5-10 min walk.
- Genevieves Garage, 2/30 Miro St. Mount
- Harbourside City Backpackers Tauranga, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 105 The Strand. Located right in the main restaurant, pub and clubbing area.
- Hotel On Devonport, ☎ . Devonport Towers, 72 Devonport Road. Noticeable in the heart of downtown Tauranga, it also houses private apartments.
- The Sebel Trinity Wharf Tauranga, 51 Dive Crescent, ☎ . Stylish 4.5 star hotel. In the heart of Tauranga with harbour views.
- Te Puke
- Waihi Beach
- White Island. New Zealand’s only active maritime volcano. Tours operate from Whakatane. 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.