A Travel Guide to Tauranga and Mt Maunganui
Sprawling along the coast and picturesque waterways of the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga is one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing cities rich in history, culture and stunning natural attractions. Meaning “place of rest/anchorage” in te reo Maori, Tauranga is aptly named as place to recharge on your travels – it has the lavish hotels, sandy beaches and indulgent hot pools to prove it. That said, those seeking adventure can certainly find it in the outdoor tours and activities around the city. This is New Zealand, after all.
So, plan your city escape according to your unique travel style with this complete travel guide to Tauranga and Mt Maunganui.
Fast Facts About Tauranga
Location: The Bay of Plenty region on the east coast of the North Island.
Climate: Daily average temperature – 14.4°C/57.9°F, yearly average rainfall – 1,426 mm/56.1″
Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?
Time zone: NZST / GMT+12/+13
How to get to Tauranga: Tauranga is well connected to the rest of New Zealand by road, within a three-hour drive from Auckland, 1h30mins from Hamilton and one hour from Rotorua. The closest international airport is Auckland Airport with plenty of car rental options available where domestic flights to Tauranga take 40 minutes. Tauranga is also on the main national bus route, which you can find more information about in Bus Networks in New Zealand.
Tauranga for Budget Travellers
The centre of seasonal work in the North Island and full of free natural attractions, Tauranga is a mecca for budget travellers and backpackers. If you’re just visiting for a short time, however, the iconic Mount (Mauao) in Mt Maunganui offers a great hike and views, while there’s plenty of activity on the city’s beaches as well. Stay in hostels or motels and enjoy proximity to affordable hot pools, art galleries and more. Get more advice in The Guide to Tauranga on a Budget.
Things to Do in Tauranga on a Budget
- Visit McLaren Falls Park
- Check out the Tauranga Art Gallery
- Climb The Mount in Mt Maunganui
- Explore Moturiki (Leisure) Island
- Visit the historic Elms Mission House and Gardens.
For more ideas of affordable activities, check out the 19 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Tauranga & Mt Maunganui.
Where to Stay in Tauranga on a Budget
Tauranga is a city of hostels and motels, so there’s something here to suit most needs. Hostels work closely with nearby orchards and packhouses, should you be looking for a job as part of a working holiday, while the motels offer an excellent private self-catering option. Check out some of our top picks in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Tauranga.
Tauranga for Luxury Travellers
Travellers looking for a more premium experience will certainly find it on the unique V8 trike, Harley Davidson and helicopter tours of the city. Alternatively, there are many options to escape the hustle and bustle, from bird watching tours to wellness retreats, while basing yourself in one of Tauranga’s luxury lodges or hotels. Find out more in The Luxury Guide to Tauranga.
Luxury Experiences in Tauranga
- See New Zealand’s unique birdlife with Foris Eco-tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Explore Mt Maunganui on a V8 Trike with V8 Trike Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- See what it’s like to fly a fighter jet in The Aviator Experience (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Indulge in a hot pool and spa day at Mount Hot Pools, Fernland Spa or Ridge Country Retreat.
For an explanation on each experience, take a look at the 8 Luxury Activities in Tauranga.
Luxury Stays in Tauranga
While the luxury accommodation in Tauranga is by no means extensive, there are a few gems worth seeking. Luxury lodges can be found on the outskirts of the city, while the four-star hotels of the inner-city are enough to please even the most discerning traveller. Check out some recommendations in the 8 Best Luxury Accommodation in Tauranga.
Tauranga for Families
With a fantastic array of all-weather activities in and around Tauranga, families can enjoy an undisrupted getaway to the big city. Days in Tauranga can be spent building sandcastles on the beach, getting active at the climbing wall complex and even relaxing in hot pools while the little ones splash around in the kiddies’ pool. Learn more about planning a family getaway in The Guide to Tauranga for Families.
Things to Do in Tauranga with Kids
- Climb through the trees at Adrenalin Forest (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Let the kids loose at the Waimarino Adventure Park (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Have a beach day in Mt Maunganui or Papamoa Beach
- See warbirds and fighter jets at Classic Flyers NZ
- Feed the birds at Katikati Bird Gardens.
For more information on all of the above activities, take a look at the 10 Things to Do in Tauranga with Kids.
Kid-friendly Accommodation in Tauranga
Families visiting in Tauranga usually find that the motels provide the best-value stay with plenty of space for the whole family, as well as the convenience of self-catering facilities. Nevertheless, there are inner-city hotels, as well as holiday parks on the outskirts for families looking for something different. Check out our recommendations in the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Tauranga.
Tauranga for Couples
Couples looking for a city escape or want to add an iconic destination on their honeymoon itinerary are certainly setting the right tone in Tauranga with its sweeping beaches on the shores of the glistening Pacific Ocean. A getaway to Tauranga is about experiences shared, whether it’s connecting with nature on a dolphin swimming tour or enjoying the simple pleasures like watching the sunrise from the beach. After it all, retreat to your romantic lodge or hotel as recommended in The Honeymoon Guide to Tauranga.
Activities in Tauranga for Couples
- Team up on a kayaking tour to see the glowworms with Waimarino Kayak Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Watch the sunrise from the top of The Mount
- Join Fun Top Fun New Zealand for their romantic tour of Tauranga (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Swim with dolphins with Dolphin Seafaris (on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Orca Wild Adventures (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Take on an escape room challenge together.
For more on each suggestion, take a look at the 10 Romantic Activities in Tauranga for Couples.
Romantic Stays in Tauranga
From quaint boutique hotels and B&Bs to luxurious lodges, there’s a romantic accommodation in Tauranga to suit most tastes. Check out some recommendations in the 5 Best Romantic Accommodation in Tauranga.
Tauranga for Foodies
As the main centre of a region called the “Bay of Plenty”, Tauranga is arguably one of the best destinations for foodies on the North Island. Food tours will take you to all sorts of wineries, breweries, cideries and artisans, or you can mingle with the local producers at the farmers’ market. There are plenty of delectable restaurants in town, while your accommodation may also have its own culinary delights. Find out more in The Foodie Guide to Tauranga.
Food Tours and Experiences in Tauranga
- Do tastings on a wine tour with Tauranga Tasting Tours Charters (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Do a cooking class with Cusine Concepts, Carolie’s Culinaire or Somerset Cottage
- Mingle with the locals at the Tauranga Farmers’ Market
- Taste award-winning ciders at The Cider Factorie
- Dine at Tauranga’s restaurants.
For more activities to choose from, take a look at 9 Things to Do in Tauranga for Foodies.
Where to Stay in Tauranga
We all have our preferences when we’re travelling. We either want to stay in accommodation with its own culinary experience or we want to experiment with local produce in self-catering accommodation. Luckily, we cover both in the 10 Best Accommodation in Tauranga for Foodies.