How to Plan the Best Trip 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.
Common Questions About Tauranga
Let’s cut to the chase; what are the most common questions travellers have about visiting Tauranga?
Is Tauranga Worth Visiting?
Yes – if you enjoy beaches and city attractions, such as dining and shopping, Tauranga will be well within your comfort zone.
What is Tauranga Famous For?
Apart from being one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing cities, Tauranga is famous for having one of the best-known beaches in New Zealand, Mount Maunganui, leading to the iconic volcanic cone of The Mount/Mauao.
Where is Tauranga Located?
Tauranga is in the Bay of Plenty region on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.
What is the Weather Usually Like in Tauranga?
The daily average temperature is 14.4°C/57.9°F, while the yearly average rainfall is 1,426 mm/56.1″. Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?
How Do You 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.
What is Mount Maunganui Called?
The official name for Mount Maunganui is its Maori name, “Mauao”. Colloquially, it is simply known as “The Mount”. When locals talk about Mount Maunganui, they are usually referring to the suburb that Mauao is in.
What to Do in Tauranga
A bustling metropolis and a coastal playground, Tauranga offers an array of exciting experiences. Culture yourself at the city’s art galleries, feel your toes in the sand on Mt Maunganui‘s main beach, and see it all from a stunning viewpoint atop The Mount. Tauranga also offers you amazing day trips, such as McLaren Falls Park and Papamoa Beach.
The Top Experiences in Tauranga
What are the must-dos? Here are some of the Tauranga highlights:
- Climb to the top of The Mount (Mauao)
- Explore the waterfalls, lake and forests of McLaren Falls Park
- Swim with dolphins (more info and book tickets on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Kayak with glowworms (on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook)
- Tackle the high-wire obstacle course of Adrenalin Forest (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Explore the Main Beach of Mt Maunganui and Moturiki (Leisure Island)
- Experience stand-up paddleboarding with Eastcoast Paddler…
… And the list continues over in our 15 Best Things to Do in Tauranga.
Rainy Day Activities
It’s no fun being stuck in the rain without a plan. Make a rainy day epic with these activities:
- Relax at the Mount Hot Pools, Oropi Hot Pools or Fernland Spa
- Visit the Tauranga Art Gallery
- See warbirds and fighter jets at Classic Flyers NZ.
Of course, there’s more where that came from over in our 11 Things to Do in Tauranga on a Rainy Day.
Where to Stay in Tauranga
Other than the accommodations we recommend on the righthand side of this complete travel guide to Tauranga (or at the bottom, if you’re on mobile), we have compiled entire lists of places to stay based on price, what’s best for families or a couples’ getaway, as well as premium stays. What’s more, each list is compiled by real writers; not some algorithm.
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 or Tauranga & Mt Maunganui – Guide for Backpackers.
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.
Cheap Accommodation in Tauranga
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 Accommodations in Tauranga and 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in Tauranga & Mt Maunganui.
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)
- Indulge in a hot pool and spa day at Mount Hot Pools, Fernland Spa or Ridge Country Retreat
- Skydive over the city with Skydive Tauranga (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Sample Tauranga’s fine dining.
For an explanation of each experience, take a look at the 8 Best Luxury Experiences 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 Accommodations 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, Tripadvisor and Klook)
- 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 Accommodations in Tauranga.
Tauranga for Couples
Couples looking for a city escape or who want to add an iconic destination to their honeymoon or couples’ getaway 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 simple pleasures like watching the sunrise from the beach. After it all, retreat to your romantic lodge or hotel as recommended in The Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Tauranga.
Activities in Tauranga for Couples
- Team up on a kayaking tour to see the glowworms with Waimarino Kayak Tours (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook)
- Watch the sunrise from the top of The Mount
- Swim with dolphins with Dolphin Seafaris (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Take on an escape room challenge together
- Pack a picnic for McLaren Falls Park.
For more on each suggestion, take a look at the 10 Most Romantic Things to Do 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 Accommodations 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 Food Guide to Tauranga: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
Food Tours and Experiences in Tauranga
- Do tastings on a wine tour with Tauranga Tasting Tours Charters (more info 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 the 9 Best Foodie Experiences in Tauranga.
Where to Eat in Tauranga
- Mills Reef Winery (2389 State Highway 2, RD4, Katikati)
- Rice Rice Baby (136 Maunganui Road)
- The Rising Tide (107 Newton Street)
- Elizabeth Cafe and Larder (247 Cameron Road)
- Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market (1 Dive Crescent)
Tauranga Accommodation for Foodies
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 Accommodations in Tauranga for Foodies.
More About Tauranga
That’s it for our complete travel guide to Tauranga but by no means the end of our Tauranga travel tips! Check out the following guides for more advice on what to do in the region:
- The Top Cheap Eats in Tauranga & Mt Maunganui
- The Best Day Trips from Tauranga
- 7 Best Things to Do in Papamoa
- 7 Best Things to Do in Te Puke
- 5 Best Things to Do Katikati
Finally, plan more of your North Island trip using the North Island in Two Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary or North Island in One Week: Road Trip Itinerary. You’ll also find more advice for planning an epic NZ trip in The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.