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Exploring New Zealand

Tauranga Area Guide

Historic post office in Tauranga - ©
The sunny port city of Tauranga, the western Bay of Plenty's main centre, is one of the fastest growing cities in New Zealand, thanks to its temperate climate and prosperous economy.

The city is a favourite holiday destination for New Zealanders and it is filled with great summertime activities, including swimming with dolphins, cruises on the harbour, and swimming and surfing on the long sandy beaches of neighbouring Mount Maunganui.

Tauranga's city centre is contained within a narrow peninsula with water on both sides - the Waikareao Estuary to the west, and the lively harbourfront to the east. To explore the city, follow the historical city walkway, which starts at one of the country's oldest homes, the 19th century Elms Mission House in Mission Street, with its pretty garden and old English oak tree planted in 1838. Walk on to Cliff Road to visit Robbins Park, which has views of the harbour across to Mount Maunganui, and a rose garden and begonia house to visit. Continue on to the Monmouth Redoubt, a fortified site during the Maori Wars, and follow the steps down to the carved Maori war canoe, Te Awanui, housed in a shelter at the top end of The Strand, close to the centre of town. From here you can relax at one of the sidewalk cafes on The Strand or Wharf Street.

From Tauranga Wharf, there are boat trips across the harbour to Omokoroa and to the islands of Matakana and Tuhua. The elongated island of Matakana, across the entrance to Tauranga Harbour, has a long white sandy beach for surfing and fishing. The wildlife and marine reserve at the beautiful dormant volcano of Tuhua (Mayor) Island has good walking tracks, and the crystal clear waters surrounding it are perfect for diving and snorkelling.

Eleven kilometres south of Tauranga lies the McLaren Falls Park, a 170-hectare lakeland park with rich birdlife, good trout fishing, and rock pools for bathing on sunny days. The park also provides access to Marshalls Animal Park, which has pony rides and animals for children to feed.

For beautiful views of the Bay of Plenty by day or night, drive to the Minden Lookout, 10 kilometres west of Tauranga.