Nearby Mount Maunganui, which is just five kilometers from the City of Tauranga on an island that protects the harbor, is a suburb and one of New Zealand’s busiest resort cities. Its beaches are its claim to fame. Because it is sheltered, the Port of Tauranga enjoys a very pleasant climate that makes the population explode during the holidays. There are many places to see and things to do in the area surrounding the Port of Tauranga, but visitors will not want to miss a few of them.
Some 50 nautical miles east-northeast of the Port of Tauranga is White Island, an active volcano where visitors must wear hardhats and gas masks to take in the sight. You have to be in good shape to take this trip because the old dock includes steel ladders, a concrete wharf, and wobbly steel bridges before you climb rocks to reach the volcano. This is New Zealand’s only live marine volcano, and it is treasured by scientists from around the world. Anywhere from 100- to 200-thousand years old, the above-water portion is only about 16 thousand years old. Instead of beautiful green vegetation, White Island is covered with white and yellow sulfur and ominous fumaroles.
Te Puna Quarry Park is an old quarry being developed into a wonderful park by volunteers. At the top of the quarry, one is blessed with glorious views of the bay. The park has ponds, thousands of orchids, tree ferns, and many native and exotic plantings that make it a botanist’s dream. Visitors will enjoy the different areas that include an Australian area, a Bonsai corner, a palm grove, a South African area, and a native arboretum. Even the admirals and monarchs love the park’s wonderful butterfly garden.
Mount Maunganui (the Maori called it Mauao), a suburb of the Port of Tauranga, is New Zealand’s most popular summer destination and a very popular retirement community. White one of the most beautiful white –sand beaches in the south Pacific, it is home to a popular ocean-side surf and a peaceful harbor-side inner beach. An extinct volcano towering above the Port of Tauranga, a climb to its peak offers breathtaking views of the city. A place of legend, Mount Maunganui has a busy shopping center that houses classy boutiques, high-style restaurants, and casual cafes. Being New Zealand’s “Surf City,” Mount Maunganui is a favorite spot for divers and surfers, and beach-lovers enjoy building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, and attending surf life-saving events.
While visiting the Port of Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, you can take a tour of the Maori culture that will last a lifetime. Indigenous Trails is one of the companies offering guided tours. They will take you away from the normal tourist traps to places out of the tourism mainstream. This four-hour trek is led by an indigenous guide who will first take you to the Minden Look-out to get great views of the city before going to Oropi on the Port of Tauranga’s outskirts where you will experience a “powhiri” welcoming ceremony and a short nature walk while you learn about the Legend of Mauao. After the trip to Oropi, you will go to Kiwi 360, Te Puke otherwise known as the World’s Kiwifruit Capital. This is only one itinerary among many offered by Indigenous Trails.
Travelers who want to see the Port of Tauranga, Mount Maunganui, and New Zealand’s North Island can find a long list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website or on the Port of Tauranga’s cruise schedule.