The Top Places to Visit Near Tauranga
Tauranga might be the largest city in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, but that’s just the beginning. Surrounding Tauranga are some of the major North Island highlights, from the geothermal landscapes of Rotorua to the fantastical land of Hobbiton. We’ll go through some of the popular self-drive day trips from Tauranga in this complete Tauranga day trip guide. Plus, we mention some guided day tours from Tauranga for those without access to a vehicle.
Additionally, head to The Complete Guide to Tauranga for more trip-planning advice.
5 Best Day Tours from Tauranga
Before we go into the best self-drive day trips from Tauranga, here are some day tours that are ideal if you don’t have your own vehicle.
Guided Day Tours from Tauranga
- Full-day Rotorua Shore Excursion with Cruise Tours Tauranga (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with Zealandia Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Waitomo Caves and The Kiwi House with Tauranga Tasting Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Local Tasting Tour with Tauranga Tasting Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Maori Geothermal Village & Kiwi Fruit Orchard Tour with New Zealand Discovery Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
The Best Day Trip from Tauranga for Foodies
Under an hour’s drive from Tauranga is the geothermal and cultural hub of Rotorua. Choose your flavour of adventure between geothermal parks, Maori shows and hangi buffets, white water rafting, ziplining, Luging, Zorbing and so much more! As a major tourist hotspot on the North Island, Rotorua has no lack of things to do.
For more ideas on activities, check out the 20 Best Things to Do in Rotorua.
The Best Day Trip from Tauranga for Budget Travellers
Travel time by car: 50 minutes one-way
Venture north past the mural town of Katikati and you’ll come across the intriguing mining town of Waihi. Check out its mining attractions, such as the huge Martha Pit Mine in the town centre, as well as the nearby Waikino Victoria Battery. It’s also worth trudging an additional 10 minutes from Waihi to explore the walking trails of Karangahake Gorge.
Head to the 10 Wonderful Things to Do in Waihi for more activities.
Matamata and Hobbiton
The Best Day Trip from Tauranga for Families
A popular trip for fans of The Lord of the Rings and movie-making, the Hobbiton Movie Set Tours (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday) is just under an hour’s drive from Tauranga. If you want to make the most of your day, however, take a side trip to the North Island’s highest waterfall, Wairere Falls, or check out the Hobbit Hole information centre in the town of Matamata.
Check out the 10 Things to Do in Matamata for more activities on this day trip from Tauranga.
The Best Day Trip from Tauranga for Couples
Travel time by car: 30 minutes one-way
Tauranga has many glorious waterfalls to drive to, but one of the most underrated is Wharetoa Falls. Nestled in the Otanewainuku Forest, the waterfall can be accessed via a one-hour one-way hiking trail. After spending some time here, you’ll definitely want to make more of a day of it by taking on some of the other gorgeous bushwalks like the Otanewainuku Summit Track and the Rimu Loop Walk.
Learn more about the walks in the Otanewainuku Forest on the Department of Conservation website.
Whakatane and Ohope Beach
The Best Day Trip from Tauranga for Luxury Travellers
Travel time by car: 1h10mins one-way
Along the coast of the Bay of Plenty is the smaller town of Whakatane. It neighbours Ohope Beach, which has been ranked as Kiwis’ favourite beach to visit and looks out to the offshore volcano of White Island and Moutohora Island. Take a trip to the bird sanctuary of Moutohora Island or try your luck spotting kiwi birds in the Ohope Scenic Reserve.
For more ideas of activities to do on this Tauranga day trip, check out the 11 Amazing Things to Do in Whakatane.