There’s plenty to see and do in the Bay of Plenty, as this part of New Zealand is so aptly named. In Tauranga, a mix of quirky sites and extraordinary natural attractions make it easy to spend the day here and get a sense of the town’s completely unique personality. The harbor and port town make for a popular beach resort by the name of Mount Maunganui. On your New Zealand cruise, you’ll find out why Tauranga is the Bay of Plenty’s shining gem.
Waterfront restaurants and cafes give Tauranga a sense of glamour. Aside from that, it’s hard not to feel swept up in the flurry of activities travelers can do here, like taking a dip in a hot mud bath. Like Auckland, Tauranga’s food scene offers cuisines of every variety. Of course, Tauranga doesn’t forget its Maori history, and you can tour traditional villages to learn about their ancient and contemporary Polynesian culture.
As one of the oldest buildings in New Zealand, the pretty Elms Mission House and its garden is of important cultural significance for Tauranga. Tour the Elms Mission House for a detailed understanding of missionary settlement and efforts in the Tauranga area. A leisurely walk through the grounds and the extensive library is a thrill for history buffs.
Mount Maunganui, nicknamed “the Mount” is a must-do activity while in Tauranga. The Mount watches over Tauranga Harbor, close to the cruise port. According to Maori legend, the mountain, named Mauao, is a sacred place with healing properties. From the base, it’s only a 45-minute walk to get up to a lookout point for wide views across the harbour and back to sea.
Go swimming in the sheltered waters of Pilot Bay near Mount Maunganui, where you can spot and may even find yourself swimming alongside wild dolphins. The beaches in New Zealand attract thousands of surfers and swimmers each year. You can rent equipment for surfing or snorkeling, or simply spend the day lounging beachside.
Neighboring Rotorua, is a major center for Maori culture and geothermal wonders like Hell’s Gate, where you can walk through an active landscape steaming and bubbling with underground activity. If you’re craving some natural relaxation during your time in New Zealand you could take a dip in a mud bath, fed by the largest geothermal mud volcano in New Zealand, or check out the magnificent hot waterfall.
No Tauranga cruise is complete without experiencing and honoring the Maori culture that has shaped this region. Take a trip to Te Puia Maori cultural centre or stop in and meet Maori residents at Whakarewarewa village, where locals will show you how they live alongside the geothermal springs and use their unique properties to power their daily routines. Sample Maori cuisine and see a show featuring traditional music and dance including the famous haka.
Most of the world’s kiwifruit comes from New Zealand. During your Tauranga cruise, you can tour a kiwifruit orchard, pick your own kiwifruit, and learn about the growth, production, and trading of this native fruit.
Address: 309 Maunganui Road, Tauranga, NZ
Fresh sushi and Japanese fusion are the specialties at Satori Lounge, whether you’re a sashimi or eel lover or you prefer the slightly more familiar California roll. In fact, Satori has nine different spins on a California roll to choose from. They offer dairy-free cream cheese and gluten-free tempura or panko which is a huge win for those with dietary restrictions on a Tauranga cruise.
Address: Old Yacht Club Building 150 The Strand, Tauranga, New Zealand
Harbourside has the waterfront views and the generous mains you need during a big day of exploration, whether that’s beer-battered fish and chips or a pan-roasted chicken breast with delicious, creamy pancetta pasta. Fresh seafood done up in clever ways are staples on the menu, and you’re promised the freshest catch of the day here. Lunch is served from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, and the place opens back up for dinner each day at 5 PM.
Le Petit Four Cafe & Patisserie
Address: 65 Chapel Street, Tauranga, NZ
To indulge your sweet tooth after a day of hiking or swimming in Tauranga, try Le Petit Four Cafe & Patisserie, which specializes in beautiful cakes, freshly baked bread, and pastries, plus breakfast favorites and sandwiches for the lunchtime crowd. Vegetarian-friendly options are a huge draw, too. It’s a good spot to grab a morning or early afternoon coffee before continuing on with your tour of Tauranga.
Johney’s Dumpling House
Address: 107 Newton St, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, New Zealand
Craving dumplings in a cozy, no-frills atmosphere? Johney’s is the spot in Tauranga for that. The dumplings here consistently receive rave reviews and come in all sorts of flavors. The cocktails warrant a try, too.
In the Maori language, the word “Tauranga” means “resting place,” which perfectly describes this beach resort town with its easy-going spirit. The early Maori settlers arrived on the Takitimu, an ocean-going canoe known as a waka, and settled in the area as early as the 1100s. Later, this part of New Zealand was aptly named the “Bay of Plenty” by English explorer Captain James Cook in the 18th century. Missionaries and European settlers started flocking to Tauranga as early as the 1830s. The status of Tauranga as a port city and a hub for trade brought jobs and economic development to the area in the mid-20th century. Today, Tauranga has immense respect for its past and pays homage to its Maori culture through events and programming as the city continues to grow and evolve into a business hub for New Zealand.
Cruise ships will dock at Mount Maunganui at the Salisbury Wharf. Both the beach and the Mount Maunganui main street area are just a short walk for travelers who wish to stretch their legs after time at sea. You can also take a shuttle further into Tauranga from the port. The waterfront is beautiful, and travelers can continue onto their shore excursions or break off on their own itineraries from there.
Taxis are common in the area, and you can book ahead or call if you have the contact details for a local taxi provider. You can even catch an Uber. There’s a shuttle for cruise passengers from the port to Mount Maunganui every half hour, six days a week (not available on Sundays). An excursion with Celebrity will take care of any transportation needs you may have getting to and from your excursion. Of course, you can also rent a car to get around for the day if you wish to get behind the wheel and see Tauranga via car.
The main street of the beachside resort suburb called Mount Maunganui features plenty of fashion boutiques and clothing stores for an interesting afternoon of shopping. Pohutukawa Gallery sells indigenous arts and handmade pottery if you’re looking for a souvenir that was made by locals. Plus, bars and cafes line main street, so you won’t have difficulty grabbing a bite to eat, either.
Use the New Zealand dollar (NZD) while stopped on cruises to Tauranga and other cities in New Zealand. Tipping isn’t customary here, so you don’t have to worry about leaving a tip for taxi drivers, servers, or bartenders. You can exchange currency at banks and ATMs across the area. When you’re shopping, taxes will already be included in the total price, and you’ll quickly notice that credit cards are commonly accepted almost everywhere in New Zealand.