How to spend 48 hours in Tauranga

Sunshine, stunning views, plenty of nature and foodie finds, Tauranga offers a variety of options for the curious traveller to discover in just 48 hours. It is the largest city in the Bay of Plenty and is easily accessible from Auckland, Rotorua and Hamilton, plus is just a short 15-minute drive from one of New Zealand’s most popular beach towns, Mount Maunganui. The city is surrounded by water with stretches of golden sand and plenty of watersports available for the outdoors enthusiast. From fishing to surfing, diving to white water rafting, there’s plenty of opportunities to soak in everything Tauranga has to offer.

Start Downtown

Begin your trip in Downtown Tauranga and tick off the must-see spots around the area. First up is the Hairy Maclary sculptures which were installed to celebrate renowned children’s author, Dame Lynley Dodd. These life-sized sculptures were crafted by Brigitte West, the lead sculptor for Sir Peter Jackson, and are perfect for kids of all ages to witness a storybook scene come to life in an iconic waterfront setting. Next on the list is the Elms. One of the Bay of Plenty’s oldest heritage sites, this one hectare property encompasses category one listed heritage buildings and nationally significant collections set within a gorgeous garden. Stroll among the expansive grounds, join a guided tour and explore a piece of beautiful history right here. 

From the Elms, enjoy a leisurely walk to Robbins Park where you can enjoy views to the Port of Tauranga and Mauao. If you’re hankering for good eats or a delicious beverage at this point, we recommend a quick 3-minute drive in your hire car or a 10-minute walk to the Strand. This waterfront area is a dining mecca that’s always buzzing with a lively atmosphere. From cafes, restaurants to local pubs, you’ll be sure to find a tantalising feast. After your meal, wander along the pier and witness the breathtaking view across the water or dip your toes in the water. 

For history buffs, take a step back in time to early Tauranga at The Historic Village. This 5.5 hectare space features a collection of original and replica historic buildings, cobbled streets and lush green gardens set within a unique community that offers a multitude of experiences catering to a wide range of ages and interests. Explore boutique shops and galleries, catch a gig, find a new record at the vinyl store or park yourself at the cafe for a cuppa. 

If you’re travelling over the weekend, the markets are not to be missed. Pop by the Little Big Markets and discover an array of artisan foods and crafts brought to you by talented local makers. There’s also the Tauranga Farmers Market offering freshly baked goods, seasonal produce, artisan cheese, honey and so much more. In the evening, don’t miss Dinner in the Domain - a weekly gathering at Matua Park featuring the best foodie options the Bay has to offer. 

An Abundance of Nature

Feeling like you’ve explored most of Downtown Tauranga and are ready to soak up the beautiful nature this city has to offer? You’re in luck. There’s plenty to see and do in Tauranga and a good place to start is Maunganui Beach. Pack a picnic, relax in the sun, catch some waves or enjoy a swim in the calming waters of Pilot Bay. From here, enjoy an easy walk to Moturiki Island which is connected to Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach by a man-made bridge, providing easy access to this small but stunning space that’s also known as Leisure Island. 

If you’re up for more of a challenge, hike the Mount Maunganui Summit Track and witness an impressive 360° view of the Bay of Plenty coastline and Tauranga town centre. Mount Maunganui’s Māori name, Mauao, means “caught by dawn” - and the track is best explored at sunrise. When you get to the top, you’ll be greeted by beauty from every angle and a stunning sunrise that will make the climb worth it. Treat yourself after the hike to a soak in a salt-water pool at Mount Hot Pools and book in a massage for the ultimate luxurious getaway experience. 

Immerse yourself in more of nature with a quick escape to McLaren Falls Park or Kaiate Falls. Just a short 10-minute drive from Tauranga, McLaren Falls Park is a lush 190 hectares of parkland set alongside Lake McLaren. This park is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, picnics and bush walks as well as for its waterfall track where you can see glow worms after dusk. Kaiate Falls is about a 30-minute drive from the city where nature lovers can walk through the forest and enjoy a cool off swim at the lower base of the falls while taking in the spectacular sight around them. If you’re looking for something closer to Tauranga with something for the whole family, you can’t go past Waimarino Adventure Park. The park offers the perfect day out with a huge variety of activities from kayaking and paddle boarding to obstacle courses, slip and slide and a game of beach volleyball. 

If you’re looking for a quick escape to unwind and switch off from the daily grind, Tauranga really is the place to be. With plenty of options for everyone, it’s a place where you can choose your own adventure and make the most of 48 hours. Make the most of your trip and hire a car from Tauranga Airport to enjoy an effortless holiday your way. 

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