12 Hours in Tauranga: Sea, Sun and City in the Bay of Plenty

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Tauranga is a tranquil seaside city, with all the spectacular scenery and idyllic beaches you would expect from New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty. With an abundance of exciting outdoor activities and fascinating insights into the area’s heritage, the biggest problem with Tauranga isn’t finding something to do but fitting it all in. We’ve rounded up some of the best things to see and do if you’ve only got a limited time in the city, plus where to grab some great food while you explore.

What to See

Tauranga is something of a visual feast, with loads of stunning locations to check out. We’ve picked three of our favourites.

Mount Maunganui

One of the first things you’ll notice about Tauranga is the beautiful Mount Maunganui forming its backdrop. Affectionately known as Mauao, or just the Mount, it is an iconic landmark of the city. Hiking up the mountain is the best way to see the city, as it gives you a panoramic view of the bay below. If climbing to the top doesn’t appeal to you, there are a couple of beaches at the foot of the mountain, where you can soak up some sun and enjoy the majestic beauty of the mountain from below.

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Robbins Park

Robbins Park has a variety of pretty things to see, as well as some interesting historical features. Pick a nice sunny day and wander through the tropical plant house, admire the Italian Renaissance-style ivy colonnade, and breathe in the scent of the beautiful rose garden. Next to the park is Monmouth Redoubt, which was used as a colonial infantry station in the 1860s and makes for an interesting visit. You can still see the bumps in the landscape where it has been shaped by history. There is also a Māori canoe on display at the bottom of the hill, so there’s plenty to see if you’re interested in the heritage of the area.

Tauranga Art Gallery

The city’s art gallery is quite small, but often has really good exhibitions and events. You’ll be surprised at the scale of the exhibitions and the big names that sometimes have art work in the gallery. From fantastic shows highlighting the talent of local artists to activity days aimed at getting children into art, it’s worth seeing what’s on during your time in Tauranga. It’s free entry and right in the centre of town, so pop down in between shopping or head to one of the cool cafés nearby after you’re done.

What to Do

There is absolutely no time to be bored when visiting Tauranga, with plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Here are just three of our favourite things to do when visiting.

Explore Memorial Park

Memorial Park is the perfect place to visit if you want somewhere with plenty for everyone in the family to do. As well as the much-loved beach, the park has a fountain, swimming pools, crazy golf, and a miniature train to ride on. It’s the perfect place to have a picnic and let the kids loose to burn off some energy, while you relax with a good book and enjoy the stunning views across the bay. Plus, there’s almost always an ice cream van.

Visit the Historic Village

Tauranga Historic Village, on 17th Avenue, is a fascinating place to explore during your visit to the city. This collection of original and replica buildings from the early days of Tauranga have been preserved to create a street that feels like stepping back into the city’s history. With beautiful gardens, independent businesses, and the natural surroundings of the bush, the village is a great way to explore Tauranga’s heritage. With special events and festivals happening throughout the year, you might even get caught up in an exciting community activity.

Swim with Dolphins

If you’ve always wanted to get up close and personal with a dolphin, Tauranga is the place to do it. There are plenty of companies offering tours out on the bay to observe the dolphins in their natural habitat, and even swim with them. Whether you want to snorkel, swim, kayak or just relax on the boat, there are loads of different ways you can observe the rich marine life that lives in the bay.

Dolphins - Unsplash

Where to Eat

Tauranga’s favourable position between the sea and plentiful farmland makes it a great place to enjoy amazing local produce. Here are three of our favourite places to do just that.

Tay Street Beach Café

You can’t go to Tauranga without taking a trip to the beach, and that means you’ll need to refuel nearby. Tay Street Beach Café is definitely the best place for beach eats, which is why it’s such a favourite among locals. Serving ‘Tay versions’ of Kiwi cuisine, the menu offers simple, fresh flavours seven days a week. Taking advantage of their position opposite the surf, they serve plenty of delicious seafood. It’s got a great, relaxed atmosphere, so expect a friendly welcome and lots of people still in their beach clothes.

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George

For a proper taste of Tauranga’s local produce, George is the place to go. The food is simple but delicious, with a heavy focus on using sustainable, fresh and local produce. From the organic eggs that come from the owners’ chickens to the organic milk and cream, you can be assured that everything is as ethical as it is tasty. Follow up a hearty lunch with one of the irresistible homemade sweet treats.

Barrio Brothers

If you want to try something a little less kiwi-focused, Barrio Brothers is a fantastic Mexican restaurant with a focus on good food. The atmosphere is vibrant and the margaritas are free-flowing, but it’s the restaurant’s delicious take on Tex-Mex that keeps people coming back for more. Everything is made in house, from the tortillas to the sauces, and the focus on fresh produce can be tasted in every dish. Look out for seasonal specialities, such as fresh scallops, which add excitement and adventure to the menu.

If this guide has made you want to explore Tauranga for yourself, why not book one of Cruise1st Australia’s amazing deals on a cruise that stops there? Browse the full collection online or call our friendly sales team on 1300 857 345.

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About Author

Lily Egge

Lily is in her mid 60’s and loves cruising. She and her partner have cruised on at least 40 cruises so far and there is much more to see. They usually travel on a balcony cabin, especially at Christmas where they celebrate on the cruise with the family. She lives in Manifold Heights in Victoria. Lily writes for Cruise 1st on a regular basis.

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