Although Tauranga is regarded as a retirement town, its benign climate and selection of beaches mean that it is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations. Located in the Western Bay of Plenty, the Maori name has been translated as ‘resting place’ or ‘safe anchorage’. Nearby volcanic activity has created fertile soils making the area the kiwifruit capital of the world. The port at nearby Mount Maunganui serves the city with a continual commercial function, although this does not disturb the town from being a tranquil resort. The volcanic landscape provides the area with numerous walks and hiking opportunities, or you can choose to just relax and soak up the sun on one of the areas dazzling beaches.


Mount Maunganui, locally known as ‘The Mount’, rises high above Tauranga’s port and overshadows the town. It is possible to walk to the summit to enjoy the spectacular views, and the journey on foot will only take you around ninety minutes for the round trip. At the peak of the mountain unobstructed views of the coast can be taken in, while at the base you can find the Mount Maunganui Hot Salt Water Pools. There are three private pools and two outdoor spa pools heated to 39ºC, as well as a cooler active pool at 32ºC and a toddler’s pool with waterfall, slide and fountain.

If you don’t fancy the walk up the Mount to take in the views then there is also the option of a balloon ride. Flights usually take around four hours, and travel over the Waikato farmland.

One of Tauranga’s greatest appeals has to be its beach life. The long stretches of golden sand coasts are protected on the inland side, and offer constantly good surfing on the others. The fifteen km of Ocean Beach stretches from The Mount to Papamoa and is one of the countries most popular surfing beaches, as well as being popular with swimmers. These breaks can often get aggressive and are not suitable for beginners. To the other side of The Mount lies Mount Maunganui Beach which is a favourite with sun worshippers. Within Tauranga Harbour there are a number of sheltered bays which are safe for swimming. Two of the best are Omokoroa Beach and Pahioa Beach, which are located around twenty two km to the west of the town.

Matakana Island, with its outstanding beach and surfing opportunities, makes a first-rate jaunt from Tauranga. With only one pub and a shop on the island this will be a tranquil trip. However, you have to be prepared to get up early as the fifteen minute journey on the ‘Forest Lady’ leaves from The Stand weekdays at 0645, returning at 1545. A slightly later ferry from Omokoroa sets off at 0745, and returns at 1600.

As well as The Mount, Tauranga has other excellent opportunities for hiking. There are over twenty marked walks in the area, whose routes are illustrated in a booklet available from the Information Centre detailed below. These are of varying difficulties and thus it is possible to find a walk suitable for all abilities.

There are a great deal of outdoor activities to engage in at Tauranga. Big game and deep-sea fishing are major attractions, and boats for fishing trips can be chartered throughout the year. Ask at the Tauranga Big Game Fishing Club at Sulphur Point or see Blue Ocean Charters.

To continue New Zealand’s reputation as the adventure capital of the world, White Water rafting is available on the Wairoa River but this is only suitable for the experienced. For more information contact Wet ‘N’ Wild Rafting.

In nearby Te Puke you will find the orchard and horticultural park known as Kiwifruit360, formally Kiwifruit Country. Kiwi-carts tour through the orchards where you can see a variety of fruit and learn about their origins and how they grow. The Kiwi café offers a place to refresh yourself, with many of the products being made from kiwis.


There are a number of shopping centres in the Bay area, including Mount Maunganui’s Phoenix Centre, Bayfair and Palm Beach Plaza. If you are looking for craft shops then head to the Compass Community Village which is located on Seventeenth Avenue West, which also houses the daily Tauranga Market.

Nightlife and Eating Out

There is a plethora of seafood restaurants in the town, which offer fresh seafood at reasonable prices with sea views. The town also houses a great deal of pubs and bars which are packed during the weekends, as well as one club called Astrolabe that doubles up as a restaurant.

Tourist Information

  • Tauranga Information and Visitors Centre, 95 Willow Street, Tauranga, New Zealand 3001
  • Tel: +64 07 578 8103
  • Fax: +64 07 578 7020
  • Email: trgvin@tauranga.govt.nz
  • Mt Maunganui Visitor Information Centre, Salisbury Avenue, Mt Maunganui, New Zealand 3002
  • Tel: +64 07 575 5099
  • Fax: +64 07 578 7020


Tauranga Airport is located in Mount Maunganui, which is only about twenty minutes away from Tauranga. The airport is situated on the edge of the coast which makes for a spectacular landing. Internal flights are available to and from Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North.