The Complete Budget Guide to Tauranga
Tauranga might be one of the more expensive cities to live in New Zealand, but that certainly isn’t the case when just visiting. Backpacker hostels and motels make staying in the bustling harbourside city ultra-cheap, while the paid activities here won’t burn a hole in your wallet. Sweeping beaches, scenic walks, wonderful waterfalls, picturesque gardens and more are free to visit, while some of the inner-city experiences like museums and historical sites will just be a small admission fee if they pique your interest. Either way, we’ll guide you on how to make the most of your savings with this complete travel guide to Tauranga on a budget.
Budget Tips for Tauranga
- Plan to visit Tauranga in the off-peak season (May to October) to find discounts on tours and rooms
- Stay in the city’s hostels for the cheapest accommodation option, they offer private rooms too! See our recommendations in the 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in Tauranga
- Consider staying in self-catering accommodation so you can cook your own meals and save money on food
- Fill up most of your itinerary with the free and cheap activities in Tauranga
- Plan what you splurge on – make your bucket list with the 10 Tauranga Must-Dos
- Tauranga city centre and Mt Maunganui are not within walking distance of each other, so choose the suburb you want to do the most activities in to save money on transport/fuel. Otherwise, city buses are available for a cheap transport option.
For more general money-saving advice, check out the 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.
Free Activities in Tauranga
Despite being a bustling city, Tauranga has a surprising array of free natural attractions to check out. First on your list should be hiking up The Mount. Also known as Mauao in te reo Maori, The Mount is an extinct volcano at the end of Mt Maunganui beach. A 30-minute climb to the summit brings you to stunning views of the Mt Maunganui suburb, beaches and the Pacific Ocean.
While you’re in the area, also walk along the Main Beach of Mt Maunganui to find a causeway onto Moturiki Island, also known as Leisure Island. The island has an interesting history which you can read all about on the interpretation panels along a short walk. At the end of the island is a viewpoint with blowholes in the rock pools below.
In the city centre of Tauranga, take the time to walk around, see the wealth of street art spraypainted down laneways and car parks, and head to the Tauranga Art Gallery. The art gallery is free-entry with ever-changing exhibitions. Find it on the corner of Wharf and Willows Street.
For much more ideas for free activities, check out the 19 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Tauranga & Mt Maunganui.
Cheap Activities in Tauranga
There are a few more things you could be getting up to in Tauranga that have a small admission fee but still won’t set you back too far. For instance, soaking in a natural geothermal hot pool is one of the affordable things to do in Tauranga. Fernland Spa (250 Cambridge Road, Bethlehem) only costs around NZ$14 to relax in their large hot pool, while Oropi Hot Pools (1 Warner Road, Oropi) is cheaper still at around NZ$11 admission.
While spending some time on the beach is a fun free thing to do, you can amp up the experience by hiring a surfboard and hitting the waves. Surfboard shops in Mt Maunganui offer half-day surfboard hires for around NZ$30, while some of the hostels in Mt Maunganui have free hires if you’re staying with them.
And for your dose of New Zealand history in Tauranga, check out the Elms Mission House and Gardens on Mission Street. Take a cheap guided tour (around NZ$15 for international visitors) of the kauri house built in 1847 and tour the picturesque gardens with many photo opportunities.
For more ideas, don’t forget to check out the 19 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Tauranga & Mt Maunganui.
Cheap Eats in Tauranga
When venturing to any city on your New Zealand road trip, it can be hard to resist the allure of eateries. Luckily, Tauranga has plenty of great options to dine on the cheap.
In Mt Maunganui, get your beer fix at the Astrolabes Brewbar (82 Maunganui Road) that does NZ$10 beer, burger and chips on Tuesday nights. Taste the New Zealand Mac’s beer while you’re there. Alternatively, Papamoa Beach Tavern (20 Domain Road, Papamoa) does the same deal every Monday night.
For your steak fix, head to The Hop House (297 Maunganui Road) for NZ$15 ribeye steak every Wednesday, while The Bach (Bayfair Shopping Centre) does NZ$16 Kiwi burgers.
Finally, while not exactly a cheap eat, an affordable activity and must-do is getting an ice cream. A popular place is Copenhagen Cone (14 Adams Avenue, Mt Maunganui) with a huge array of flavours that will complement your beach walk.
For more recommendations, head to the Cheap Eats in Tauranga & Mt Maunganui.