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Tauranga is by no means your standard New Zealand town. The weather cannot be classified as hot, although Tauranga is blessed with over twenty-four hundred hours of sunshine every year. That is certainly a plus, and every relaxing activity imaginable is offered here. The city is the second fastest-growing town in all of New Zealand, with only Queenstown expanding at a faster rate. Currently, Tauranga is home to 58,500 people, and on average fifty families have been moving to this bustling city every year. It is no wonder why the region has become so popular, as it is safe, exciting, diverse, and warm. From touring in a four-wheel drive vehicle through the hills to swimming with the dolphins, Tauranga has it all. The hot springs are glorious, and you could spend an entire day and night lounging in the bubbling saltwater pools. They are truly magnificent, as are the restaurants and accommodations in Tauranga.
Tauranga is the place to go if you need a vacation from everyday life. The beach sports and activities are active all year long. If you love water sports, then Tauranga is the place for you. The fishing here is great, and yachting and sailing are incredibly popular. The White Island volcano is an exciting destination, as it is the only live marine volcano in New Zealand. Even though it is active, the guided tours and hikes remain quite popular. The shopping and eateries in Tauranga are great, and you are sure to find some unique cuisine in this fast-growing town. If you enjoy kiwis, or just unusual and interesting sights, then visiting the Kiwifruit Country is an absolute must. The terrain, nightlife, and museums in Tauranga are all diverse and wonderful, so if you want to mix in some culture with your beach going, scoot on over to Tauranga, New Zealand.
A cruise ship visit to Tauranga (pronounced "Tao-ronger") is like getting three port calls for the price of one: Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Rotorua. Situated in the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga deserves a half-day or more of exploration. The busy city has several historical highlights (like the Elms Mission Station, said to be the oldest building in the Bay of Plenty), interesting architecture (check out the Brain Watkins House, built with local kauri wood) and tasty seafood-focused dining at the restaurants and pubs along the revitalized waterfront.
Cruise ships actually dock in the nearby town of Mount Maunganui, which is also worth visiting. There, visitors can embrace nature and the outdoors at the surfing hotspot of Mount Beach, with easy to strenuous hiking at Mount Maunganui, and in soothingly hot or warm saltwater pools at the mountain's base. Urbanites can also find lots of shopping and restaurants on busy Maunganui Road.
Sadly, cruise travelers usually do not have enough time to visit all three destinations in one port call. Most choose to either stay in the neighboring Tauranga and Mount Maunganui or take the long shore excursion to the Rotorua area. Whichever way you go, you will not be disappointed
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Tauranga Ltd, located eight kilometers (4.6 miles) from the downtown region and one kilometer from scenic Mount Maunganui.
On Foot:
All of Mount Maunganui's attractions are within a 10-minute walk of the port.
Tauranga has a limited bus system that can transport you around the city. Although some lines arrange for free buses, the only option on our visit was a city bus with direct service from Mount Maunganui to Tauranga. Leaving relatively frequently from the i-SITE office at the port, the bus costs a few New Zealand dollars per person one-way, and it takes 20 minutes to get to the middle of the commercial district of Tauranga. The bus drops passengers off at the convenient Tauranga i-SITE office and, from there, all of Tauranga's top attractions, shopping and dining options are within a 15-minute walk.
By Taxi:
Taxis are available at the i-SITE office at the port, but if you are just heading into Tauranga, the city bus is the way to go. If you are going to Rotorua, a taxi or shore excursion would be your best bet. However, it is suggested that tourists simply walk to their destinations, as traffic can be a problem, and most sites are in close proximity to one another. If you would like to ride around town in a taxi, contact Citicabs (07/577-0999). The ferry service (800/FERRY1), which will take you to Mount Maunganui, takes only thirteen minutes.

In Tauranga or Mount Maunganui, a good option is Tauranga Mount Taxis. Contact them on (07) 578 6086 or visit www.taurangataxis.co.nz. In Rotorua, you can contact Rotorua Taxis on (07) 348 1111 to book a cab.
Public buses
From Mount Maunganui you can catch the Bay Hopper to all parts of Tauranga city. The trip costs $3.20 one-way, or you can buy a day-pass for NZ$6.30. Route information can be found at www.baybus.co.nz or freephone 0800 422 928.
Things To See and Do
Sun, sea, and surf rule here. The Kiwi 360 can be found in Te Puke (07/573-6340). Strange as it may be, the kiwifruit industry is one that yields New Zealand millions of dollars every year. Who would have thought these tiny little fruits could be so profitable! Here you will find orchards to walk through, guided tours, theme parks, and an enjoyable souvenir shop. Even the restaurant located on the grounds of Kiwi 360 features some interesting kiwi cuisine. Next to the Kiwi 360 you will find the Te Puke Vintage Auto Barn (07/573-6547) which features seventy authentic cars from old New Zealand. It is fascinating to look at these collector's items, which are fabulously presented.
But before you take to the water, take a look at Kiwi360, 35 Young Rd., Te Puke (tel. 07/573-6340; www.kiwi360.com), 5km (3 miles) south of Te Puke. It's definitely different, and if you want insight into the multimillion-dollar kiwifruit industry, this is the place - and it's great for kids, too. There are daily kiwi cart tours every hour through orchards and theme parks (NZ$25 adults; NZ$10 children ages 5-15), a kiwifruit souvenir shop, and a restaurant. It's open daily 9am to 5pm, except December 25.
The mural town of Katikati is worth a brief stopover. Ask at the visitor center for the location of some of the town's many professionally painted street murals - there are over 40. And take a dip in the thermal Sapphire Springs, 274 Hot Springs Rd. (tel. 07/549-0768; www.sapphiresprings.net.nz), set on 31 hectares (78 acres) of native bush. They're open daily 8am to 7pm.
In Tauranga, the Elms Mission House, Mission and Chapel streets (tel. 07/577-9772; www.theelms.org.nz), is one of the finest examples of colonial architecture of its time (1847). The house is open Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays from 2 to 4pm and costs NZ$5. If you're interested in more of the town's history, pick up the excellent brochure Historic Tauranga from the information center.
Tauranga Art Gallery, corner of Wharf & Willow streets (tel. 07/578-7933; www.artgallery.org.nz), is well worth a look. It's a beautifully designed space showcasing historic and contemporary art, both local and national. It's across the road from the i-SITE Visitor Centre and open daily from 10am to 4:30pm; free admission.
Garden enthusiasts can pick up the Garden Trail brochure at the visitor center. McLaren Falls Park, McLaren Falls Road, Tauranga (tel. 07/577-7000), is another lovely stop. It consists of 170 hectares (420 acres) of lake-land park set amid pastoral farming and horticulture, containing one of the best botanical tree collections in the North Island. If you have a license you can fish for trout, or simply enjoy the arboretum and numerous walking tracks.
The most spectacular of Tauranga's attractions is nearby White Island, New Zealand's only active marine volcano. Known as Whakaari to Maori, this active volcano sits 48km (29 miles) off the Bay of Plenty coast. It is privately owned and was declared a scenic reserve in 1953. Visitors cannot land on the island without permission and its spectacular sights are best seen via a guided tour.
Given its easy accessibility, White Island is something of a mecca for the world's volcanologists and scientists, who come to study its lava flows and explosive ash eruptions. Attempts to mine sulfur on the island in 1914 ended when a lahar killed 10 workers; and a major eruption here from 1981 to 1983 completely altered the island's landscape and destroyed an entire pohutukawa forest. Another eruption in 2000 covered the island in mud and scoria.
Despite its fiery reputation, though, White Island remains a highlight for many visitors. If you're considering a visit, rest assured that the island's volcanic activity is constantly monitored by surveillance cameras, seismographic equipment, and sensors within the crater walls. You won't be allowed on the island if there is even the slightest risk of increased activity. Fishermen might like to know that the waters around White Island are home to an abundance of fish - everything from marlin to tuna. Fishing excursions operate out of both Whakatane and Tauranga.
Among the operators offering aerial excursions are Vulcan Helicopters (tel. 0800/804-354 in NZ, or 07/308-4188; www.vulcanheli.co.nz), which operates out of Whakatane and costs around NZ$550 per person. White Island Tours, 15 Strand St. E., Whakatane (tel. 0800/733-529 in NZ, or 07/308-9588; www.whiteisland.co.nz), will put you on a luxury launch and give you a 6-hour guided tour with lunch and safety gear included. This is an award-winning eco-experience that you won't forget in a hurry. It costs NZ$185 per person and you need to be reasonably agile to negotiate the inflatable boat that takes you ashore from the main launch. Tracks on the island can be uneven and you'll be on your feet for around 2 hours. No open-toed footwear or sandals are permitted, and it is not recommended for children 7 and under. They operate from 6:30am to 10pm in summer (9pm winter). Don't despair if you don't make it to White Island from here, as there are several Rotorua operators, which also offer great flights.
The Mt. Manganui Hot Pools can be found on Adams Ave. (07/575-0868) and offer both an exercising pool and a series of hot saltwater pools. A pool split into lanes is for those who wish to get a little workout, but the water is quite cool, and visitors usually opt for the saltwater springs. When the weather turns foul, there is nowhere better than the Hot Pools.
The Compass Community Village features a series of attractions, most notably the House of Bottles Wood Museum, which is located at 17th Ave. W. (07/571-3700). The pioneer farms of New Zealand used wood fence posts for decades, and a man by the name of Keith Goodwin has created interesting art out of them. Their re-creation into quality souvenirs makes great presents or decorations for around the house. Keith has transformed them into handcrafted bottles that are quite appealing to the eye.
Outdoor Adventures
Four-Wheel Drive excursions are offered by Hill Hoppers (07/533-1818), and you have the option to drive yourself or be driven by an expert. The choice was easy for us, but perhaps you are a real thrill-seeker! The vehicles used are 4WD Suzuki Vitaras, and rest assured that they are mean machines, so get ready for an exhilarating afternoon if you try this adventurous outing.
White-Water Rafting
There's no shortage of rafting operators. Wet 'n' Wild Rafting, 2 White St., Rotorua (tel. 0800/462-723 in NZ, or 07/348-3191; www.wetnwildrafting.co.nz), operates on five rivers in this region, offering a wide range of adventures depending on your level of experience. You can add more fun by combining rafting with jet-boating, a helicopter ride, and mountain biking. Prices start at NZ$99 to NZ$110 per person.
Dolphin Swimming
Several companies offer the opportunity to get in the water with the common dolphins that live in the bay. Try Butler's Swim With Dolphins, Pier C, Berth C60, Tauranga Bridge Marina (tel. 0508/288-537 in NZ, or 07/578-0821; www.swimwithdolphins.co.nz). Expeditions depart Tauranga daily at 8:45am and the Mount at 9:15am for a full-day outing; and cost around NZ$145 for adults, NZ$110 for kids.
Blue Ocean Charters, Tauranga Bridge Marina, Tauranga (tel. 0800/224-278; www.blueocean.co.nz), offers half- and full-day reef fishing, day and overnight hapuka fishing, and ecotrips to Mayor Island. Prices range from NZ$75 to NZ$100 per person depending on the trip type; kids under 13 cost NZ$50.
Four-Wheel-Drive Adventures
Springloaded Fun Park (tel. 0800/867-386 in NZ, or 07/533-1515; www.springloadedfun.co.nz) is at Paengaroa on State Highway 33, a half-hour south of Tauranga. Open daily from 9am (closed Dec 25-26 and Mon-Tues in winter), they have self-drive 4WD cars from NZ$60 for adults and NZ$35 for children ages 14 and under for 3km (2 miles) of fun.
Reliable thrills can be had with Springloaded Jet (tel. 0800/867-386 in NZ, or 07/533-1515; www.springloadedfun.co.nz). Prices start at NZ$95 per adult, NZ$45 for children 15 and over; children 14 and under are not allowed.
Combine gentle kayaking with a lovely glow worm experience on Lake McLaren with Waimarino.com, by the Wairoa River, 36 Taniwha Place, Bethlehem (tel. 07/576-4233; www.waimarino.com). It's New Zealand's only glowworm kayak tour. It costs NZ$125 for a standard tour with refreshments. They also offer a range of more lively options including ocean kayaking.
Sky Diving
Tauranga Tandem Skydiving at 2 Kittyhawk Way, Tauranga Airport (tel. 07/576-7990; www.tandemskydive.co.nz) is your best bet. A basic jump will cost NZ$255 to NZ$345.
Hibiscus Surf School, Mount Maunganui (tel. 07/575-3792; www.surfschool.co.nz), offers exclusive personal tuition with surf instructor Rebecca Taylor, who will quickly bring you up to speed on local surf and ocean conditions.
Eating Out
The Harbourside Brasserie and Bar is found on the Strand Extension (0800/721-714) and was built in the 1930s to serve as a yacht club. Now it is a hot dinner spot thanks to chef Stephen Barry. The seafood chowder is occasionally out of season, but if it is available, by all means order it, for magnificence awaits you in the form of this delectable dish. The entrees are delicious as well, and the ambiance is distinctly nautical, giving you the feeling that you are inside a small sea vessel. Bella Mia is located at 73A Devonport Rd. (07/578-4996) and features the best Italian food in Tauranga. The head chef came straight from Rome with a mission to bring authentic Italian cuisine to New Zealand. The pastas, tortellini, lasagna, and cannelloni are all fabulous. Stick around for dessert, because the homemade sorbets, tiramisu, and gelato are simply splendid.
The Bay of Plenty is filled with great shopping opportunities from markets, boutique handcrafts to high fashion, homeware to streetwear, jewellery to sporting supplies. 

‘Downtown the Mount’ is your one-stop specialty shopping and dining destination in stunning Mount Maunganui. With over 200 businesses, you will find boutique stores, exquisite New Zealand gifts, souvenirs, art, and everyday shopping. Discover funky cafés, bars, and restaurants, as well as banks, internet, and postal services. Open seven days…
Greerton Village is a funky shopping centre, renowned for its superb vintage and unique boutique shopping and diverse dining options.Greerton Village is easy to get to, with over 98 bus services running through the Village daily or a quick 12 minute drive from anywhere in the Bay of plenty. Contact: Victoria Thomas -- Phone: +64 7 571 6347 Address: 1253 Cameron Road Greerton Tauranga 3110 New Zealand 9046
The Arts Market at The Cargo Shed is an art and craft market where local artists can work and display their products to the public for sale. All art is made in New Zealand. Open weekends in winter and seven days a week in summer. 10 am - 4 pm.Contact: Kathy Sass Mobile: +64 27 544 5692 Address: 5 Dive Crescent Tauranga New Zealand kathy.sass@xtra.co.nz
Original art, sculpture, jewellery and gifts for the discerning shopper looking for exclusive products and friendly, knowledgeable service. Both local and imported products. Be tempted and inspired. Contact: Sylvia Harmsen Phone: +64 7 574 7428 Address: 104 Maunganui Road Mount Maunganui 6113 New Zealand 5428

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