Tauranga (population 120,000) is the major city of the western Bay of Plenty on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is the sixth largest city in the country, and is 105 km east of Hamilton and 85 km north of Rotorua.


Mount Maunganui panorama

Tauranga is located at the head of a large harbour which extends along the western Bay of Plenty, and is protected by Matakana Island. The volcanic cone and town of Mount Maunganui stand at the entrance to the harbour, five kilometres north of Tauranga. "The Mount", as it is known, is often regarded as a satellite town of Tauranga, although it is technically a suburb. It is one of the major resort cities in New Zealand, famous for its beautiful beaches and surfing.

The name Tauranga comes from Maori, it roughly translates to "a sheltered anchorage". Due to its sheltered position on the east coast, Tauranga enjoys a warm, dry climate. This has made it a popular location to retire to. During the summer months the population swells as holidaymakers descend on the city.

Much of the countryside surrounding Tauranga is horticultural land, used to grow a wide range of fresh produce for both domestic consumption and export. The area is particularly well known for growing tangelos (a grapefruit / tangerine cross) and kiwifruit. The Port of Tauranga also experiences brisk but seasonal shipping traffic and is a regular stop off for both container ships and luxury cruise liners.

Tauranga i-SITE Visitor Information Centre, 95 Willow St, NW corner of Wharf, in the heart of the Tauranga CBD, is the first place a visitor should go for local tourist information, maps, bookings, and tickets. From there, most of Tauranga's top attractions, shopping and dining options are within a 15-minute walk.

Get in

By car

Driving routes are State Highway 2 from Waihi, and Auckland via the scenic Karangahake Gorge; SH 29 over the Kaimai Range from the Waikato (also an option from Auckland via SH 27 onto SH 29); SH 36 from Rotorua via Pyes Pa (now sealed all the way); SH 2 from Te Puke, the western Bay of Plenty (and Rotorua via SH 33).

By air

Tauranga Airport has regular Air New Zealand direct flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

By bus

By boat

Cruise ship at Salisbury Wharf, Port of Tauranga

Centrally located in the Bay of Plenty and home to a deep water harbor, the Port of Tauranga is a popular cruise hub with over 85 ships per year. The cruise port itself is actually located in the township of Mt. Maunganui, a laid back beach town, which is 7km north of downtown Tauranga.

From the cruise ship dock at Salisbury Wharf, it’s only a five-minute walk into the Mount's CBD on Maunganui Rd. Many cruise lines also provide shuttles to the town’s CBD (or better yet, to Tauranga's CBD), and all of the attractions in Mt. Maunganui are within a ten-minute radius of the Salisbury cruise port.

In order to reach the city of Tauranga, you can ride the public BayBus Routes 1 or 2 from Mount Maunganui to Tauranga CBD. Bus 1 runs along Maunganui Rd and bus 2 starts on Salisbury Ave, and it takes about 30 (#1) or 45 (#2) minutes to get to the middle of the Tauranga CBD. You should get off at the Tauranga i-SITE visitor centre at Willow and Wharf Sts. From there, all of Tauranga's top attractions, shopping and dining options are within a 15-minute walk. Alternatively, you can take a taxi (~$20) for the ten minutes ride to Tauranga. Or, if you would prefer to hop back on a boat, there is a ferry service between Salisbury Wharf and the Tauranga waterfront, which is run by Tauranga Water Transport.

The Tauranga cruise port is also convenient for day trips to Rotorua, where steaming geysers and geothermal wonders create a fascinating, otherworldly landscape. To reach Rotorua, many cruise lines offer shore excursions which provide transport for the one-hour journey.

Get around

By bus

Bayhopper bus system is a reliable service that covers the Tauranga, Mt Maunganui, Papamoa & surrounding areas. Cash fares (Aug 2015) are $3.20 for an adult, or $1.90 for a concession, and these tickets are valid for any transfer within 60 minutes of issue. A Daysaver pass costs $7.40/$5.30, and allows travel on any bus for the day of purchase. If you plan on using the buses a lot, investing in a SmartRide card may be a good idea. These cost $10 and are available from the bus driver, or the central Tauranga i-Site, and save you 20% on single-ride fares.

By boat

Tauranga Water Transport operates harbour scenic cruises and historic tours, daily service on the Matakana Ferry between Omokoroa and Opureora, ferry service between Salisbury Wharf in Mount Maunganui and The Strand in the CBD, and other charter services.


Looking over Hobbiton, Matamata


In summer, holiday-makers travel to "The Mount" to make the most of the beautiful beaches and the great surf. The waters off the coast of Tauranga are good fishing areas.

Mauao and beach (looking north)
Evening view from Mauao of Mount Maunganui (looking south)
Paragliding at Tauranga Entrance and Mount Maunganui


There are two main shopping centres in the Tauranga region - Bayfair at 'The Mount' and central Tauranga, or 'town'


People in Tauranga love to eat out. There is a large selection of restaurants to eat at, especially on 'The Strand', which is regarded as the restaurant central of Tauranga.


As with eating, people in Tauranga love cafes. You will also find numerous pubs around the area. A double spirit will cost $6-7.

'The Strand' is the main area for Tauranga's nightlife consisting of a strip of bars, clubs and restaurants.





Various backpacker/hostel type accommodation is available in Tauranga.



Go next

White Island
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