This harbourside metropolitan is located in the Bay of Plenty region, on the North Island. It’s approx. a two and half-hour drive from Auckland, the Capital of New Zealand. If you’re looking for a place to immerse in some incredible nature escapades, visit a stunning beach, a park, explore a historic village, an island with a volcano or have an epic kayak tour, then Tauranga’s the place! Here are some of the best things to do in Tauranga!
Explore the Beautiful McLaren Falls Park
The McLaren Falls Park is the sole definition of botanic beauty. Located just 15-minutes from Tauranga City, next to the stunning McLaren Falls Park Lake, this verdant haven homes many treasures. Spot waterfalls, rock pools, there’s a spacious grassland for you to enjoy a picture-perfect picnic – and if that’s not enough, simply make it a camping experience. Even witness the blue luminosity emitting from glow worms after dark. It’s a natural wonderland that will excite any visitor.
Reach the Summit of the Mount Maunganui
Also known as the Mauao Summit Track, the Mt Maunganui track can be a little challenging. So gear up. Just a 20-minute drive from the city, you will find this track awaiting to reward you with wickedly beautiful views of the bay and the Tauranga cityscape and the nearby islands that’ll be etched in your mind forever. The trail can take about 45-minutes – but take your time. It’s not about speed. It’s about witnessing and absorbing the scenic views around you.
Go Kayaking at the Waimarino Adventure Park
If you’re looking to enjoy a different kind of fun, the Tauranga’s Kayaking and Recreational Park awaits. Located near the Wairoa River, it’s a 10-minute drive from Tauranga. Try the kayak slide and diving boards, Experience scenic kayak tours with visits to ethereal glow worm canyons, relax in thermal-hot pools while enjoying a magical sunset. The tour guides are knowledgeable and super entertaining. Whether you’re enjoying Kayaking or just relaxing in the warm waters, this place is a must-add to your list of things to do in Tauranga.
Visit the cascading Kaiate Falls
If going in search of cascading waterfalls excites you, then the Kaiate Falls is a must-add to your list of things to do in Tauranga. Located 30-minutes from Tauranga. The path’s well maintained, so the walking trail is enjoyable. As you get close, you can hear the sound of water streaming down. The setting is scenic and calming. Perfect for some meditation too. The pool at the bottom of the fall is cool, so you can even take a dip.
Chill at the Hairy Maclary & Friends Tauranga Waterfront
If you’re not a New Zealander, you might not get the references to the lovely bronze statues. But you can appreciate the detail and effort gone into creating the place. It’s an ideal place to chill. The waterpark is located 15-minutes from the city. It’s spacious and even offers generous views of Rangataua Bay. Kids will definitely enjoy a trip here.
Catch the waves at Mt Maunganui Main Beach
Located at the base of the stunning Mount Maunganui, approx. 30 minutes from the city and just minutes from the famous Mount Hot Pools. The waters of Mount Maunganui beach are blue, the sand’s white and soft. Ideal place for beach lovers. Surfers come to catch the waves. Maybe even go and explore Moturiki Island (a.k.a. Leisure Island) which is just off Mount Maunganui Main Beach! The walk to the islands across a small rock path along the bay and it’s absolutely worth exploring!
Explore the Karangahake Windows Walk
Get ready for another stunning walk through nature – located one and half hours away from Tauranga. It’s an easy and beautiful track. Walk through tunnels (keep your phone torch ready – but it’s safe), and cross bridges – which is fun, as you get incredible views of the hills and the streaming river gorge below. The trail passes through an old gold mining site – with old paths and artefacts still there. This walk should be added to your list of things to do in Tauranga.
Visit The Elms – one of the oldest heritage sites in the Bay of Plenty!
Located approx. 10-minutes from the city, this heritage site Te Papa Tauranga is a nationally significant location as well. Go on a guided tour to learn about its history and check out the antique collections in the vintage edifice – it’s worth exploring as it’ll give you an understanding of the city history too. This historic site is quite close to Mt Maunganui, the main beach, Tauranga Harbour and the Bay.
Picnic in the lovely Te Puna Quarry Park
Many refer to this beautiful park as a hidden gem in Tauranga. Located approx. 20-minutes from the Bay, a walk in the Te Puna Quarry Park is a must. The walk paths are super stunning. The green botanical space is enchanting and serene, apart from the occasional chirping of birds in the park. There are neatly placed sculptures –including a charming dragon sculpture along the stairs. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a lovely picnic and a walk.
Take a scenic flight to White Island (a.k.a. Whakaari)
If you want to witness a live volcano, you head to Whakaari Island – one of the world’s few accessible islands with an active volcano. Located approx. 48 km from the bay, the best way to view the island is to book a flight or helicopter tour, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the island and the live volcano. From the air, you’ll see steam roaring from vents in the island, the acid lake and you can learn about the island activities while watching it. It offers an intimidating terrestrial beauty.
Experience the scenic track of the Mount Maunganui Base
This is different to the Mount Maunganui summit track. Here you’re exploring the base track. And it’s unlike any you’ve experienced. The sides of the roads are shaded with trees while offering far-stretching sceneries of the beach shores of Mount Maunganui and clear skies. It’s a scenic path. With the beach close by, you also get plenty of breeze as you make your way. So gorgeous!
Visit the Papamoa Beach & Papamoa Hills Regional Park!
Approx. 30 minutes from Tauranga and the Bay, the famous Papamoa Beach awaits. After you’re done enjoying a refreshing beach swim or surf session, there’s much to see in the region of Papamoa. Just a 5-minute drive from the beach you can visit the beautiful Papamoa Hills Regional Park, close by Te Puke. Trek its popular verdant trails, with stunning green hill-ish landscapes surrounding you – which also homes a number of archaeological sites that you could explore! Worth visiting? absolutely!