The Things You Can’t Miss in Tauranga!
With the vast Pacific Ocean views ever in sight, Tauranga couldn’t have a better waterfront location. The fifth-largest city in New Zealand is a popular place for travellers to experience, with its metropolitan vibe teamed with stretches of white sandy beaches. Tauranga has a vibrant art and dining scene while offering plenty of outdoors experiences from swimming with dolphins to climbing up the city’s isolated volcano. Check out the things you can’t miss in this list of best things to do in Tauranga!
Tauranga is the main hub of the Bay of Plenty region, making it a great base for quick road trips to some of the region’s hidden gems and must-see attractions. Within 30 minutes drive, you can be marvelling at waterfalls, kayaking under glowworms, hiking in the hills, doing a treetop obstacle course and much more!
For more things to do in between experiencing the “must-dos in Tauranga”, check out our 10 Free and Cheap Things to do in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui. And don’t forget to explore the nearby towns and their attractions – see 7 Top Things to Do in Te Puke and 11 Amazing Things to Do in Whakatane.
1. Climb The Mount in Mt Maunganui
Mt Maunganui is Tauranga’s most popular seaside suburb and a place you can’t miss when visiting Tauranga! Mt Maunganui is a settlement in itself packed with shops, eateries and accommodation. If you only get to do one thing in Mt Maunganui, make it walking up The Mount/Mauao – the volcanic cone at the end of the suburb. A walk to the top takes only about 15-30 minutes, rewarding you with sensational views of Tauranga, Mt Maunganui Beach and the Bay of Plenty coastline. See more activities like this in the 19 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Tauranga & Mt Maunganui.
Location: Follow the boardwalks on Marine Parade, Mt Maunganui until you are faced with a huge mountain with walking tracks. (You can’t miss it!)
2. Experience Tauranga’s Art Scene
Tauranga is a pretty-looking city thanks to the amazing art scattered throughout! Street art is abundant and a lot of fun trying to find on the walls of some of the obscurest places. Alternatively, there’s the Tauranga Art Gallery, a free gallery with ever-changing exhibitions to amaze and astound. You’ll also find sculptures around the city centre, particularly on The Strand.
Location: 108 Willow Street, Tauranga city centre.
3. Take a Day Trip to McLaren Falls Park
If you’re looking for the perfect city escape then look no further than McLaren Falls Park. At the entrance of the park, be amazed by a cascade of waterfalls flowing into the Wairoa River. The park has activities for everyone, with walking tracks, glowworms (seen after dark), camping, a farm park, trout fishing, disc golf, kayaking, picnic areas, barbecues and more!
Location: McLaren Falls Road, off State Highway 29, approximately 20km (12 miles) from Tauranga city centre.
4. Swim with Dolphins
Just off the coast of Tauranga, the waters are teeming with dolphins! Join a dolphin cruise to either watch or swim with the dolphins. The dolphins seen in the area are the common dolphins, known for travelling in superpods. Your guides will provide all the wetsuit gear to keep you warm while you get to marvel at playful dolphins in their natural environment. Tours are available with Dolphin Seafaris (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Orca Wild Adventures (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Location: Both tours depart from 101 Te Awanui Drive, Tauranga Marina.
5. Kayak with the Glowworms
Seeing glowworms is on everybody’s New Zealand bucket list, right?! A unique way of experiencing New Zealand’s glowing oddities is on a glowworm kayaking tour in Tauranga. Waimarino Kayak Tours take you to Lake McLaren in the McLaren Falls Park for a lakeside picnic before paddling on the lake at dusk. By the time it gets dark, you will be kayaking down a narrow canyon filled with the twinkling blue lights of the glowworms. Find out more about Waimarino Kayak Tours on Viator and Tripadvisor. Want to see more glowworms? Check out 7 Places to See the Famous Glowworms in New Zealand.
Location: Waimarino Kayak Tours, Taniwha Place, approximately 9km (6 miles) from Tauranga city centre.
6. Take on Adrenalin Forest
Play in the treetops at this aerial obstacle course just outside of Tauranga. Adrenalin Forest has more than 100 challenges to tackle across six different levels – each getting higher and harder, from the kid-friendly to the ultra-challenging. Zipline, climb and jump from at least 20m (66ft) above ground on this course which can be enjoyed at least in a couple of hours! Check out Viator and Tripadvisor for more details about Adrenalin Forest. See more experiences like this in the 10 Things to Do in Tauranga with Kids.
Location: TECT All Terrain Park, Upper Pyes Pa Road, approximately 35km (22 miles) from Tauranga city centre.
7. Dine in the City Centre
Tauranga has some of the best dining experiences in New Zealand, especially when teamed with the amazing waterfront views. Find a great selection of restaurants and bars on The Strand. Alternatively, Wharf St Dining Precinct is growing in popularity with some amazing culinary experiences. However, you don’t need to be loaded to have a great bite to eat in Tauranga – just check out The Foodie Guide to Tauranga and the Cheap Eats in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui for our top recommendations and affordable meals.
Location: Tauranga city centre.
8. Take a Trip to Papamoa
Enjoy 16km (10 miles) of golden-sand beach in the largest suburb of Tauranga, Papamoa. It’s a popular holiday destination for Kiwis and for good reason. Either head to the beach or enjoy hikes and mountain bike trails in the Papamoa Hills. There are even opportunities to try something unique like blokarting, in other words, wind-powered go-karts. Or just kick back with some spectacular shopping malls and cafes. See what else you could get up to with this list of 7 Awesome Things to Do in Papamoa.
Location: East of Tauranga city centre down State Highway 2, approximately 11km (7 miles) from Tauranga city centre.
9. Spend the Day at the Beach
Another fun free thing to do in Tauranga is spend some time on the beach. The most popular choices are the Main Beach in Mt Maunganui and, as we’ve just mentioned, Papamoa Beach. On the Main Beach, check out Moturiki (Leisure Island) connected to the beach by a causeway or simply enjoy swimming, building sandcastles or whatever it is you like to do in the sand. Find out about more ways to amp up your beach experience in the next point!
Location: Main Beach, along Marine Parade in Mt Maunganui. Papamoa Beach, along Papamoa Beach Road, approximately 11km (7 miles) from Tauranga city centre.
10. Stand-Up Paddle Board at Mt Maunganui
SUP is becoming more and more popular in New Zealand, especially when there’s so much to discover along its waterways and coast. Tauranga and Mt Maunganui are some of the best places to try out this fun yet relaxing sport for yourself. Surfboard shops in Mt Maunganui offer surfboard and SUP board hires, while SUP tours are also an option with Eastcoast Paddler. Either paddle alongside the beautiful white sand of Mt Maunganui’s Main Beach or circumvent The Mount/Mauao revealing hidden beaches and seeing all kinds of fish along the way.
Location: Mt Maunganui.
11. Relax in a Soothing Hot Pool
Soak in mineral-rich thermal pools in Tauranga, of which there are a few fantastic options. Try the Mount Hot Pools at the base of Mauao in Mt Maunganui or the Oropi Hot Pools are a more affordable option. There’s plenty of room for all in the large hot swimming pool and private pools of Fernland Spa or you could amp up the relaxation with a spa day or three-day retreat at Ridge Country Retreat. See more activities like this in the 10 Romantic Activities in Tauranga for Couples.
Location: Mount Hot Pools – 9 Adams Avenue, Mount Maunganui. Oropi Hot Pools – 1 Warner Road. Fernland Spa – 250 Cambridge Road. Ridge Country Retreat – 300 Rocky Cutting Road, Waitao.
12. Check Our Kaiate Falls
A 30-minute drive out of Tauranga is the natural marvel, Kaiate Falls, also known as Te Rerekawau Falls. Follow well-formed tracks through the forest, where it gets steep in some places on your way down to the plunge pool. There are various viewpoints of the waterfall’s multiple tiers concluded with access to the swimming hole at the base.
Location: Kaiate Falls Road, Waitao, approximately 18km (11 miles) from Tauranga.
13. Skydive Over the City
Combine a scenic aerial experience with adrenaline thrills on a skydive with Skydive Tauranga. They offer tandem skydives from either 10,000ft or 12,000ft where jumps include views of the iconic Mount of Mt Maunganui, the beaches of the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel, the sprawling city of Tauranga and its winding waterways. Experience freefalling for 30 to 45 seconds followed by a parachute flight back down to earth. Find out more about Skydive Tauranga on Viator or Tripadvisor. Plus, see more aerial adventures in our 8 Luxury Activities in Tauranga.
Location: 2 Kittyhawk Way, Mt Maunganui.
14. Get “Off the Eaten Track” on a Food Tour with Taste of Plenty
See exactly why they call it the “Bay of Plenty” on a culinary tour with Taste of Plenty. The food our company offers a variety of tours to suit various foodie interests, from half-day scenic and food tasting tours to full-day ventures across the bay. On their tours, taste sourdough, local cheeses, coffee, olive oils, smoked fish, green-lipped mussels, kiwifruit, avocados, manuka honey, gelato, local beers, wine or ciders and the famous New Zealand savoury pies! See more food tour options in the 9 Things to Do in Tauranga for Foodies.
Location: Meeting points are arranged from Mt Maunganui and Tauranga.
[CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC] See Live Beekeeping Displays at Mossop’s Honey
Honey is a big thing in New Zealand, especially as it is the world’s leading producer of manuka honey! Learn about the fascinating work behind the beekeeping process at Mossop’s Honey. See live bee displays and try some free samples of honey.
Location: 761 State Highway 29, Tauriko