12 Things to do in Tauranga, New Zealand

Tauranga lookout

Tauranga is a small beach-side city located on the east coast of North Island of New Zealand. It is the fifth largest city in New Zealand and home to an estimated 140,000 people. Tauranga sits right on the water’s edge and thus is well-known for its pristine white sand beaches, great surf, blue skies, warm climate and relaxed lifestyle. After living over 4 months in Tauranga and roaming through different sightseeing’s we’ve put together a list of our favorite things to do in Tauranga.

1. Climb Mt Maunganui

When you hear people talking about Tauranga you will surely hear them talking about Mt Maunganui, also known as The Mount. This extinct volcano cone is probably one of the most visited places in Tauranga and climbing to its summit should undoubtedly be on your “Things to do in Tauranga” list. It’s not an easy hike as it is constantly rising with little to no flat/even path but the scenic views from various lookout points are totally worth it 😛

Best lookout in Tauranga
View from Mt Maunganui lookout

The hike will take about half an hour to 1 hour depending on how bad-a$$ hiker you are. As the steep Summit Track is well maintained with proper steps you don’t need hiking shoes but it’s highly recommended.

Beside the famous summit track, Mt Maunganui also has a lovely base track. The Base Track is much easier (not steep) and in our opinion more scenic.

Best walking track in Tauranga
Ocean side of the base track

Although, you can start the track from both sides of the mountain, we would recommend walking it clockwise. PS! If you go during low tide, then grab a beach-towel with you. On the Pilot Bay side, there is a beautiful beach with calm waters and most of the time not a single other person around 😛

Best things to do in Tauranga
Mt Maunganui base track beach with the lighthouse on the background

The base track is around 3,5 km long and it will take about 40-60 minutes to complete the track.
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2. Chill at the Beach

One of the many reasons why local and international visitors flood this city during summer months is Tauranga’s pristine beaches. As a matter of fact, Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach has been voted several times as the best beaches in New Zealand. It is a beautiful white sandy beach with a gentle swell and panoramic views.

Things to do in Tauranga
Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach

As it is one of the best beach in North island you can only imagine how busy it can get during summer months. So, if you are like us and prefer something more tranquil, than 10-15 min drive from the Main Beach is Pāpāmoa Beach. This 16 km stretch of golden-sand beach has all the above but is less crowded.

Best beach in New Zealand
Papamoa Beach in Spring

Also, if it is shallow and calm waters that you are after, we recommend setting your blanket town at the Pilot Bay.

Best beach in Tauranga
Pilot Bay from Mt Maunganui

This little bay has magnificent views and thanks to the calmer waters, it is ideal for swimming and water sports like paddle-boarding, kayaking, and sailing.

3. Walk to Moturiki Island

Moturiki also known as Leisure Island lies south of Main Beach. Getting to the island is super easy as it is attached to the mainland by a sandy walkway.

Things to do in Tauranga
Moturiki Island in Spring

Once at the island. A short and easy 10-minute walk will take you to a viewing “platform” from where you can enjoy amazing 360-views.

Things to do in Tauranga
Views from Moturiki Island

Looking to the south you can see beautiful coastline which stretches as far as you can see and looking north you will see the Main Beach as well as The Mount.
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4. Soak in hot pools

Probably the best relaxing thing to do in Tauranga is a soak in a heated pool. This is especial awesome during winter months and chilly summer nights. Both, Fernland Spa and Mount Hot Pools, have shared pools, private pool as well as onsite massage opportunity. Although not as luxurious as the Lost Spring in Coromandel, these two are still pretty awesome.

Visiting Fernland Spa you will be soaking in pure geothermal mineral water, surrounded with ferns and bird life. Fernland has one large main pool and 8 spacious private pools.

Things to do in Tauranga
Fernland Spa main pool

While Fernland Spa is surrounded by spectacular native bush, Mount Hot Pools are located next to The Mount and Main Beach. Not only is it located by the sea, but the pools are actually filled with warm 32 – 39 degree ocean water.
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5. Go for a stroll at the Tauranga Waterfront

Tauranga Waterfront has a well-maintained park with beautiful sculptures, a playground for children, with slides, swings, climbing frame and much more. It also has amazing views and many restaurants and cafes along the esplanade.

An interesting feature that this waterfront has is a railway line that is running right though the waterfront. PS! The railway line has been fenced off, so it is completely safe.
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6. Visit the Tauranga Marina

Almost, every Saturday, Estralians start their day with a short walk at the Tauranga Marina. Although we don’t own a boat, we enjoy admiring them 👀 With hundreds of different vessels, Tauranga Marina could keep you entertained for a while.

Best things to do in Tauranga
A Sunday coffee at the Tauranga Marina

Tauranga Marina occupies an area of 150 acres, 33 acres marina and 16 acres associated land. Comprising 561 berths, 130 trailer parks and 50 vessels on hardstand.
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7. Take a step back in time at the Historic Village

Explore the culture, art and history of Tauranga by visiting the Historic Village. At the village you will find a collection of original as well as replica buildings from early Tauranga. Most of the buildings at the village are opened for public to buy art, clothes or souvenirs, attend a workshop, see a movie, visit a barber or even get married.

Things to do in Tauranga
Historic Village in winter

During our visit, the place was like a ghost town with just us two exploring the buildings. PS! If you like the old architecture, then we also recommend visiting the city of Whanganui.
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8. Visit Tauranga Art Gallery

Another great place to see art and history in Tauranga downtown is the Tauranga Art Gallery. The gallery offers a constantly changing selection of historical and contemporary art from regional, national and international artists.

Places to visit in Tauranga
Tauranga Art Gallery

The gallery is open 10am-4:30pm every day (except for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day) and admission is free
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9. Take a walk at Te Puna Quarry Park

One of the most memorable things we did in Tauranga was the walk at the beautiful Te Puna Quarry Park. Built on the side of a steep hill, this park has many walking tracks, panoramic views, special gardens, ponds as well as a butterfly house. Beside the beautiful scenery there are also many sculptures by local artists featured throughout the park.

Free walks in Tauranga
Sculptures in the Quarry Park

On a clear day you can admire views over Mt Maunganui peninsula, The Mount and ocean.

Places to visit in Bay of Plenty
Views of the Mt Manganui

This fairly easy walk can take anything between 45 min to few hours (should you choose to enjoy a picnic at one of the scenic spots).
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10.Kaiate Falls

Kaiate Falls, also known as Te Rerekawau Falls, is located a short 20 min drive from Tauranga. It is a powerful waterfall with cascades at the top, 15 m fall at the lower part and a swimming hole at the base. Although, when we last visited this place (Oct 2020), swimming was not allowed.

Best waterfalls of New Zealand
Kaiate Falls

Because this track is not the easiest (with some uneven stairs and rapidly changing elevation) it is recommended to wear closed shoes. It takes ~10 min to reach the waterfall and about 20-40 min to walk the waterfall loop.
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11. McLaren Falls Park

Another beautiful Park near Tauranga is McLaren Falls Park. Covering around 190 hectares of parkland, it is set alongside Lake McLaren.

Best places to visit near Tauranga
Lake McLaren

This huge park has many beautiful walking tracks, waterfalls, an animal park and a cafe. The most famous part of the park is the McLaren Falls.

Places to visit in Bay of Plenty
McLaren Falls from the dam

For those who would like to extend their visit, there are also designated areas for camping and electric barbecues to cook a mean meal.
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12. Visit a Market

Finally, end your trip to Tauranga by visiting one of its many markets. If it is just the fresh produce you are after then make sure to visit the famous Tauranga Farmers Market. But, for something more lively wonder down to the Gourmet Market in Coronation Park.

Christmas Market in Tauranga

Visit Tauranga: By the #beach, Near the #sea. What a #WonderfulPlace to be 😛

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