Port of Tauranga
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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.
Finally, there's a third option that's also quite popular as a shore excursion: the town and region of Rotorua, about 75 minutes from the port. The area is a center for geothermal activity (including historic thermal baths) and Maori culture. Shore excursions to Rotorua will typically visit a geothermal park like Te Whakarewarea, Hells Gate or Waiotapu, which features the Lady Knox geyser, a natural phenomenon that erupts every day at 10:15 a.m. Other highlights may include bubbling mud pools, steaming springs, more geysers, spas, waterfalls, visits to one of the region's dozen pretty lakes, and the city of Rotorua proper. The trip is not for the nasally sensitive, as the hot springs and geysers are often accompanied by an ever-present sulphurous "rotten egg" smell.
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.
Top Tauranga Itineraries
Viking Orion14 Night Australia & New ZealandSydney , Sydney , Melbourne, Hobart, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland, AucklandNow
Norwegian Jewel16 Night Australia CruiseSydney , Eden , Burnie, Melbourne, Melbourne, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland, SydneyNow
Seabourn Encore16-day Holiday Australia & New ZealandSydney , Melbourne, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Picton, Tauranga, AucklandNow
Seabourn Encore32-day Treasures Of New ZealandSydney , Melbourne, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Picton, Tauranga, Auckland, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Napier, Gisborne, Tauranga, AucklandNow
Golden Princess13 Night New Zealand CruiseMelbourne, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Gisborne, Tauranga, Auckland, MelbourneNow
Where You're Docked
Ships dock at Salisbury Wharf at the Port of Tauranga, which is actually in the town of Mount Maunganui.
Good to Know
Uber-friendly locals will stop to ask anyone perusing a city map if they need help, so don't be afraid to take advantage of their assistance. Also, remember that New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road, an important safety note when crossing the street.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The local currency is the New Zealand dollar. For current currency conversion figures, visit XE.com. ATM's and banks are plentiful in both Tauranga and Mount Maunganui and are usually the cheapest way to get New Zealand dollars. Credit cards are widely accepted most everywhere.
English, with a distinct Kiwi accent, is the predominant language in Tauranga and all of New Zealand, although you may hear some Maori being spoken there.
Many British-isms have found their way into the language -- like "brilliant" or "loo." However, the most unusual is the local use of "sweet as" -- meaning good or cool. It's generally used when something pleases the speaker, such as a local responding, "It's sweet as," when asked about a particular hike, wine or local beer.
Genuine Maori arts and crafts -- including pottery, local paintings, jade jewelry or carvings -- make great souvenirs. The highly recommended Pohutukawa Gallery (138 Mounganui Road) in Mount Maunganui is within walking distance of the ship.
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