Sitting on one of the largest natural harbours in the country, Tauranga is the main city in the Bay of Plenty region. Nestled beside Mount Maunganui, this sunny urban metropolis is renowned for its marine adventures. Fishing, sailing, diving and dolphin tours are abundant - as is the opportunity to swim or surf at one of its remarkable beaches. A visit to McLaren Falls or the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park is a must do, and wandering The Strand - the downtown shopping and dining precinct - is recommended. On the water’s edge, children are easily entertained at the local playground. See the Hairy Maclary bronze sculptures, a story-book scene featuring the popular characters from Tauranga author Dame Lynley Dodd’s famous children’s books.
Relax on the edge of tranquil Lake McLaren, enjoy locally produced refreshments while watching the ducks and swans go about their evenings preparations. At dusk your guide will lead you onto the lake to watch the sun set over the rolling hills. Gently paddle on your kayak into the night and discover the magic of the enchanting glow worm canyon.
This is a truly unique experience; while you can see glow worms elsewhere in New Zealand, and you can paddle a sea kayak in many places around the world, this is the only place when the two combine for a magical and truly unique experience. Enjoy wine from the award winning Mills Reef winery, delicate New Zealand cheeses and refreshments on the edge of Lake McLaren. The glow worms are situated in a narrow, high-sided canyon at the top of the lake, not in a cave, so this tour only departs once a day before sunset. By the time you get to the glow worm canyon it’s completely dark, as required to see the glow worms to the best effect.
Tauranga city and Mount Maunganui cover a large area and is well set up for walkers. Explore the many parks and reserves that are easily accessible throughout the city, many of these tracks and trails are connected which makes it easy to take in the sights of Tauranga. Choose from coastal walks with sweeping views of the harbour and nearby islands, or take a trip inland to check out our waterfalls, scenic lakes and parks.
Mauao (Mount Maunganui) Summit Walk
This walk takes about 40-minutes and requires a good level of fitness. Choose from two scenic tracks to reach the 232-metre high summit. The view at the top is worth the effort.
You can see Mount Maunganui’s iconic mountain, Mauao, for miles around – and when you’re standing at its summit, the view is even more impressive.
Mauao (Mount Maunganui) Base Track
Mauao is an iconic landmark and traversing its 3.4-kilometres base track is New Zealand’s single most popular walk. Allow 45-minutes and plenty of time to enjoy the crashing ocean waves and views across to Tauranga and Matakana Island.
The famous “base track” around Mauao in Mount Maunganui is one of New Zealand’s most popular scenic walks.
The 3.4-kilometres route will take you full circle around this extinct volcano and can be walked in either direction – from the white sand beach beside the ocean right around to the sheltered waters of Pilot Bay and vice versa.
Moturiki (Leisure Island)
This small island sits just off Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach. In the past, it’s been a Māori pā, a quarry, a marine aquarium and a tourist attraction called Leisure Island. Now it’s a protected reserve and a great place to enjoy a walk. This iconic landmark is connected to Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach by a man-made land bridge. A popular walking track will lead you to the northern tip of the island where you’ll find a blowhole which spectacularly shoots water skyward during high tides and large ocean swells. It’ll take you between 5 and 10 minutes to reach the blowhole from Mount Maunganui’s main beach. Follow the well-marked track up the gentle slopes and scramble over the rocks at the top for the best vantage point.
McLaren Falls Park
McLaren Falls Park is 190-hectares of parkland set alongside Lake McLaren and is just 10-minutes by car from Tauranga. The park is popular for camping, kayaking, its disc golf course, bush walks and summertime concerts. It is also home to one of the best botanical collections of trees in New Zealand.
One of the highlights of the park is the waterfall track where you can see glow worms after dusk. Enjoy a short, easy stroll to the picturesque waterfall and spot the glow worms on either side of the track. Part of the waterfall track is also wheelchair and mobility scooter friendly.
Kaiate Falls (also known as Te Rerekawau Falls) is a 30-minute drive from Tauranga. The walking tracks are well-formed, although quite steep in some places. The main track leads to the top, and then to the base of the upper series of falls before continuing downhill to the lower falls. Another track, just below the car park, follows the stream back to the road bridge. Track junctions are well sign-posted.