Food and Drink in Tauranga
Tauranga and Mount Maunganui both feature a variety of restaurants for those out and exploring during lunchtime. Seafood is, of course, a specialty. The revitalized waterfront area of Tauranga and nearby streets, as well as walking-friendly Mount Maunganui, make it easy to find the fresh catch. Most shore excursions to Rotorua or other full-day tours -- like those to Waitomo Caves -- will include lunch.
For a killer waterfront view, Slow Fish on the beach at Mount Beach focuses on organic, free-range and slow food. Its all-day BIG breakfast menu is to die for, or, for lunch, check out the Slowfish Cakes served with arugula and chili jam. (Shop 5 Twin Towers, Marine Parade, Mount Maunganui. Open daily, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Satori Lounge serves up sushi prepared to order. The warm sushi rolls are all the rage, and the cocktails are creative. (309 Maunganui Road, Mount Maunganui. It's open Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 2:30 p.m., 5:30 to 9 p.m.)
For the fish & chips fanatic, Fresh Fish Market lives up to its name with just-off-the-dock fresh fish battered and fried right before your eyes. For something different, try the seafood kebabs. Come hungry, and be prepared to wait. It's well worth it! Enjoy your takeaway at a dozen picnic tables out front overlooking the dock. (Open 8 to 7 p.m. daily)
Beaches in Tauranga
Sandy and wide Mount Beach is within walking distance of the Mount Maunganui port, and it's well-known for surfing. There's a sand beach, swimming and a variety of water sports options, lessons and rentals that range from surfing to paddleboarding and kiteboarding.
Don't Miss in Tauranga
Walking trails wind around and lead up to the summit of Mount Maunganui. The summit walk takes about an hour and gets pretty steep near the top. The Mauao Base Track will take a little less time and wanders along the water and through groves of pohutukawa trees that bloom November through January. Most walkers first head to the trailhead at the end of the road running behind the waterfront RV park, but there are also other easily found starting and ending points.
The Mount Maunganui Hot Saltwater Pools complex features a spa pool, a sit-and-soak pool, leisure pool, toddler's pool with slide, renovated private pools, relaxing water jets and massage centre. (9 Adams Avenue at the base of Mount Maunganui. It's open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.)
Tauranga Art Gallery displays permanent historic and contemporary New Zealand art, along with changing local and visiting exhibitions in a former bank building. (Corner of Wharf and Willow Streets, Tauranga. It's open daily, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
A visit to Mills Reef Winery would require a taxi ride of about five miles from downtown, but the wines in the tasting room and for purchase, as well as the Art Deco restaurant, make it worth the expense for those with wine and food interests. (143 Moffat Road, Tauranga. It's open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)Get an aerial view of the entire area on a Gyroplane with Gyrate NZ. Whether on a scenic flight, an adrenaline-filled ride or a flying lesson, Gyrate NZ will show you a different view of the Bay of Plenty. (Tauranga Airport, Mount Maunganui)
The square Victorian-style Brain Watkins House was built in 1881 using local kauri wood and is one of just a half-dozen houses in New Zealand from that era with the original contents generally intact. With limited opening hours, the house is still worth a look from the outside. (223 Cameron Road, Tauranga. It's open Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.)
The old Elms Mission Station is also worth a walk-by, but try to duck in to see the interior if it's open. This former mission housed missionary families for more than a century, and the contents reflect life around 1873 -- when mission work ended. The pretty free-standing library was the first permanent building erected on the site, and the English-style gardens are also a highlight. (Corner of Mission Street and Cameron Road, Tauranga. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily)
Enjoy a day of kayaking with the family at Waimarino Adventure Park on the banks of the Wairoa River just 20 minutes from the port. There are lots of varied kayaking options, as well as swimming, a low ropes course, a climbing wall, a Tarzan swing, beach volleyball and picnicking. The kayak slide and the Glowworm Tour, where you explore a secret and magical glowworm-filled wonderland, are must-do offerings. (36 Taniwha Place, Tauranga. It's open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)