Road trips: Tauranga and Central Bay of Plenty

By: Road Trip

Road trips: Tauranga and Central Bay of Plenty Road trips: Tauranga and Central Bay of Plenty
Road trips: Tauranga and Central Bay of Plenty Road trips: Tauranga and Central Bay of Plenty
Road trips: Tauranga and Central Bay of Plenty Road trips: Tauranga and Central Bay of Plenty
Road trips: Tauranga and Central Bay of Plenty Road trips: Tauranga and Central Bay of Plenty

Things to see and do in Tauranga and central Bay of Plenty.

Tauranga, the Bay of Plenty’s main city, spreads around the entrance of one of New Zealand’s largest natural harbours and embraces New Zealand’s biggest export port. It’s hardly surprising that it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the country.

The name Tauranga translates as ‘place of rest’ and it may have been once, but the lure of sun and sea now makes the area one of the top tourist spots in the country.

Tauranga merges seamlessly into the beachside town that covers the peninsula at the southern end of the harbour and comes to a full stop with the great volcanic hump of Mount Maunganui (Mauao). The peninsula is really just a broad sand bar with the ocean and long sweep of surf beach on one side and a sheltered bay on the other. These days The Mount-end of the peninsula is lined with cafes and holiday accommodation to meet the heavy demand.

Walk towards Papamoa, along the seemingly-endless beach, and the multitudes begin to wane. The surf, the crystal sea, and the shortbread-coloured, sandy beach are, of course, the biggest drawcards but lapping at their heels are the walks, the restaurants and cafes, the water sports, fishing, diving, and sightseeing excursions to Mayor, White and Motiti Islands.

Local knowledge

Mount Maunganui has hot saltwater pools situated right at the base of Mauao.

Tauranga Historic Village: on 17th Avenue is in an attractive garden setting, featuring original and replica buildings relocated from all around Tauranga to create a colonial village, complete with school-house, blacksmith’s, and chapel. Entry is by gold coin donation.

Mount to Maketu: walk the white sand beaches between The Mount and Maketu, stretching for nearly thirty kilometres. A walk with a difference is the two-hour boardwalk through the tidal mangroves of Waikareo Estuary. Parking is available at Coach Drive or Maxwells Road.

Te Puna Quarry Gardens: 14km north of Tauranga, off SH2, these are in a disused quarry and feature a weird and wonderful collection of sculptures, combined with a variety of speciality plantings. Open until dusk.

Water activities: bird, whale, and dolphin-watching tours, charter fishing boats and tours, scuba diving expeditions, and kayak hire are available from various tour operators at The Mount.

Places to eat and drink

Fresh Fish Market on the wharf at Dive Crescent in central Tauranga sells fresh fish coming in off the fishing boats daily.

The Manor Café: with soaring sarked ceilings reminiscent of a church and two wings which house an art boutique and crafted furniture studio, this café has an impressive atmosphere.

Mills Reef Winery offers a brasserie-style restaurant, live music on Sundays and wine tastings.

Basecamp venison salami lives 31km north of Tauranga. Deerstalkers and duckshooters from around the country courier their game to Basecamp, where it’s transformed into tasty salami or sausages.

Katikati Farmers’ Market: held every Friday from 4.30pm-6pm at the A & P Showgrounds.

Tauranga Farmers’ Market is held at Tauranga Primary School, Saturday from 8am-12pm.

Mount Maunganui Market in Phoenix car park on Maunganui Road, every Sunday from 9am-1pm.

The Tauranga City Markets on the corner of Willow and Hamilton Street, are open seven days a week, with a huge range of produce, including organic fruit and vegetables.

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