Sometimes you just need to get away from the daily grind of everyday life, but you don’t have the cash to go as far away as you’d like. Well, Tauranga is NZ’s best kept secret, that’s not really so secret anymore! We’re going to let you in on why Tauranga is the new Gold Coast, only better, cheaper and closer! Read on!
Getting to Know the BOP
Tauranga is the biggest city in the Bay of Plenty Region of the North Island of New Zealand, and it’s not just known for its stunning good looks. Tauranga is an historical goldmine: late in the 13th century it was settled by Māori and therefore is one of New Zealand’s most culturally diverse cities. As the fifth largest biggest city in NZ, Tauranga’s population is still relatively small at 130,800 – which makes it that much easier to feel like you’re on a real vacation while you’re there.
Now culturally and aesthetically, Tauranga is a world-class city to vacation in, but what really has the people heading there in droves is the climate. Tauranga has what is referred to as an oceanic or maritime temperate climate. In layman’s terms this means it’s subtropical, which is just the kind of weather you’re looking for to kick back and relax in.
A popular destination in the summer months, the population of Tauranga gets considerably larger as the holidaymakers make their way to this coastal beauty – but don’t be put off by the winter months! The average high in the middle of winter is a sweltering 15C! So, no matter what month you decide to head there, you’ll be in for a real treat weather-wise!
Life’s a Beach
And because we’re mentioning the balmy weather, we might as well start to talk beaches. One of the best things to do in Tauranga is take yourself to the outlying beaches – everyone knows this. Whether you’re into fishing, sailing, or even dolphin watching, soaking up that sweet sun on the coast is at the top of everyone’s must-do list for Tauranga. Sure you’ve heard a lot about Piha in Auckland, but Auckland has nothing on the beaches of Tauranga.
From Pilot Bay at Mount Manganui, Mauao and Mount Mauganui Main Beach to Papamoa and Maketu, Waihi and Omokoroa, there’s a beach here for everyone. For family trips, look no further than Pilot Bay in particular – it’s a more civilized version of Main Beach which is crawling with surfers and surfer-wanna-bes. That said, Main Beach is the beach to be at the peak of summer. This surfing mecca reminds one of the Gold Coast with its high rise apartment complexes, café culture and beach babes! Complete with a retro wooden boardwalk, Main Beach is a great place if you like being surrounded by endless crowds on a hot summer’s day! And if that’s not your style you can rent kayaks, or yachts, or go kite surfing and white water rafting to get away from the hordes of tourists at the beachs!
If relaxing on holiday is not your thing and you’d rather get that adrenaline pumping, Tauranga is an ideal destination. White Island is very close by and just happens to be one of the world’s most accessible volcanos. This monster volcano’s base is underneath the water but its head sticks out 321 meters above the ocean, forming a spectacular island. James Cook himself named the volcano White Island during his 1769 voyage to New Zealand because it always appeared covered in white clouds.
Its Maori name, ‘Whakaari’ means ‘the dramatic volcano’ – and as it’s still active, you can’t get any more dramatic than that! White Island is your only chance to get up close to experience this kind of force of nature. Guided tours are available 7 days a week from Whakatane, which is only an hour away from Tauranga. Take the trip next level by taking a helicopter to White Island or charter your very own luxury yacht. Yolo!
If you’re an avid nature lover, McLaren Falls Park cannot be missed. This popular spot for fishing, kayaking, bush walks and summertime concerts is also home to one of the best botanical collections of trees in New Zealand. The most notable highlight of the park is the Waterfall Track where you can actually see our infamous glow worms after dusk! The Waterfall Track is also wheelchair, pram and mobility scooter friendly, so bring the whole family! The Marshalls Animal Park is also accessed through the park and features exotic animals to delight your children.
As an accommodation possibility, the McLaren Falls Park is also a great spot for camping with a maximum stay of 3 nights. Any open grassed spot is available to you, except Cherry Bay. At $10 per adult and $5 per child, you won’t find cheaper accommodation in Tauranga.
If you’re big into bush walks then you can’t visit Tauranga without taking a walk of the many tracks on offer at Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. No matter what your skill level in tramping, there’s a walk or a loop that will suit you. Avid hunters and fishers are in paradise here as well, so dads and grandads will be happy as to come here on holiday!
Once you’ve done your kayaking and bushwalking, it’s time to rest those aching muscles at the Mount Hot Pools which features a smorgasbord of pools on offer from spa pools to sit and soaks, toddlers pool and even fancy private pools. With a stunning view of the Mount, the hot salt water pools are just what you want at the end of a long day of exploring.
The benefits of warmed seawater are well-known for the ability to rebalance and detoxify the human body. Take your relaxing spa pool experience to the next level by adding on a massage from a skilled masseuse to really treat yourself.
High Flying City Living
Now that’s enough nature – it’s time to talk about what the city of Tauranga has to offer you on top of all of the exquisite water falls, beach coasts and sputtering volcanoes.
Downtown Tauranga is home to a number of world-class cafés, restaurants, pubs and nightclubs, and offers a range of excellent accommodation options. If you’re travelling with kids, children love the local playground which is right on the waterfront. As the hometown of Lynley Dodd’s notorious Hairy Maclary, your little rascals will tire themselves out playing on the bronze sculptures that create an unforgettable story-book scene featuring the beloved characters from Dodd’s famous children’s books.
They don’t call this area of New Zealand Bay of Plenty for nothing. Over the years Tauranga has really set itself apart from other vacation destinations in New Zealand with a range of art and cultural events. Long-running icons such as the Garden & Artfest, the National Jazz Festival and the Tauranga Arts Festival have put this wee coastal city on the map of places you’ve just got to visit.
What are you waiting for, an invitation? Pack those bags and get lost in the paradise that Tauranga has to offer.
Tauranga’s Top 10:
- Pilot Beach
- Main Beach
- White Island
- Mount Maunganui
- Salt Water Hot Pools
- McLaren Falls Park
- Marshall’s Animal Park
- Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park
- Cafés and Restaurants along Tauranga harbor front
- Tauranga’s arts festivals