Port Review: Tauranga, New Zealand

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It’s the gateway to Rotorua, one of New Zealand’s most popular destinations and attractions, but Tauranga is an an attractive port and beach city which is well worth a day’s exploration in its own right.

The Facts

Language: English.

Currency: New Zealand dollar.

Docking/anchoring: Ships dock at Salisbury Wharf at the Port of Tauranga near the town of Mt Maunganui.

Transport: There are limited taxis available outside Salisbury Wharf, and there’s also a bus stand if you want to take a short ride into the Tauranga CBD. Otherwise it’s a short walk into the town of Mt Maunganui.


Set on a pretty harbour and home to some lovely, sandy beaches, Tauranga is the main city in the Bay of Plenty region, and it enjoys one of the highest proportions of sunny days in New Zealand. Rotorua, with its famous geysers and strong Maori cultural history, is about 60km south of Tauranga inland; this means you either take an all-day shore excursion there, or stay locally to explore Maunganui and Tauranga. Unfortunately there’s not enough time in a day to do both, so choose carefully if it’s your first visit.

Don’t Miss

Rotorua, also known as Sulphur City, is an area renowned for its geothermal activity and around the town, clouds of steam and gas rise up as if to confirm that this is quite literally one of the hottest tourist destinations in New Zealand.

Of the several geysers in the area, the star attraction is the lively Pohutu geyser, a crowd-pleaser which erupts around 20 times a day, shooting a deadly combination of water and steam into the air, sometimes as high as 30 metres. It’s in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Village which is a cultural centre built around its spectacular geysers and mud pools.

The 250 metre Mt Maunganui dominates the skyline in Tauranga, where ships dock, and there’s a lovely walk along the Mauao Base Track around the bottom of the mountain which finishes on the town’s pretty surf beach which can be done easily in 30-40 minutes. There’s also tracks that go up to the summit, and it takes around an hour but is fairly strenuous so make sure you are fit enough before you start out. 

Best Photo Op

The hike to the top of Mt Maunganui provides a fabulous panorama of the town and its beaches which seem to go on forever, along with the harbour and its islands.


Maunganui Road in the town of Mt Maunganui has about six or seven blocks of shops selling surf gear, funky clothes and various arts and crafts. The Pohutukawa Art Gallery has a diverse range of gifts and souvenirs created by local artists.

Food And Drink

The beachfront in Mt Maunganui on Marine Parade has a handful of pretty good restaurants and it’s an easy 10 minute walk from the pier. Maunganui Road has more of a concentration of cafes and restaurants and if you want something a bit different there’s the Satori Lounge at 309 Maunganui which is a funky Japanese joint that does great sushi. 

Pick of the Excursions

Day trips to Rotorua are by far the most popular excursions out of Tauranga and they can come in all shapes and forms. Many of them feature the geysers as a main highlight and then add on various other attractions like Maori cultural villages, wildlife parks and staged sheep herding demonstrations.  

Kayaking on Lake Rotoiti is another option, and this involves exploring the lake’s coastline on a double kayak before paddling into a small glow worm cave and then finishing off with a dip in a hot pool.

For adventure junkies, especially if you’ve seen the geysers already, there’s a day trip to Agroventures which is a purpose built playground with five different experiences including a jet boat ride, bungy jumping of course, Freefall Xtreme where you fly or float above a giant wind column and the “Shweeb” which is a kind of high speed bicycle pod on an elevated track.


Joanna Hall


  • 5
    Great Day Off Ship

    Posted by Yolande on 26th Nov 2018

    We stayed in Tauranga when we cruised there in January. Had a great day walking, lunch out, bit of shopping....mind you the weather was really exceptional, mid-20s and sunny all day!