There are so many fun things to do in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui. I’ve listed 11 activities you shouldn’t miss when visiting the area. Most of the things we tried out when we spent a weekend in Mount Maunganui, and it's lovely even in pouring rain ;-)
1. Walk or bike Waikareao Estuary
If you have about 2 hours to spare it’s well worth to walk the 9km around the Waikareao Estuary in Tauranga. It will take you along the estuary at first, then through a more forestry area to a wooden path on stilts through the wetlands. This section is especially nice if you like to observe birds and other small wild life that live in this tidal zone. If you’re with bikes, it’s an easy ride on flat grounds
2. Visit the Tauranga Art Gallery
Entry at the art gallery is free, so even on a tight budget you can enjoy the changing exhibitions. If you liked what you saw you can always make a donation to the gallery, either directly at the entrance or online a little later
3. Climb Mount Maunganui for sunrise
If you’re lucky and the weather is nice, make sure you get up early enough to walk the Mount Maunganui Summit track in time to see the sunrise from the top. Take a torch or headlamp with you as there are no lights on the way up and some of the path goes through quite dark forest. Also, don’t forget to bring a picnic blanket and a thermos bottle of tea to really enjoy the sunrise in style. Another must-bring: your CAMERA, of course! 😉
4. Mount Maunganui Hot Pools
This is especially nice if the weather doesn’t quite play along with your beach-swimming-plans. The hot pools make for a relaxing couple of hours where all you do is soak in the lovely warm water and change pools every now and then. There is a splash pool for the kids, a passive pool and the small pools on the side seem to be mainly for adults, even though it doesn’t explicitly say it. If you’re staying at the Beachside Holiday Park (which is the camping in Mount Maunganui, right next door to the pools) you’ll even get 50% off the entry price!
5. Base walk around Mt. Maunganui
The base walk around Mount Maunganui is another lovely path. It’s all nice and straight and about 3.5km long. If you’re lucky you can watch Mt. Maunganui’s resident seal, Oscar, playing in the waves or sleeping on the rocks.
If you would rather play in the waves yourself, go hire a board and see for yourself why the surfing in Mount Maunganui is such a popular activity.
If surfing isn’t your thing, you can also pretend you’re a Baywatch babe, run and dive into the waves. The cool thing about Mt. Maunganui is, you can decide how you like your water for swimming! If you’re like Chris, you’ll definitely enjoy being crushed by the big waves on the main beach. Should you be like me and prefer the calm waters, just head over to Pilot Bay on the other side (5mins walk max)
8. Walk to Blow Hole on Moturiki Island
This is a quick and easy walk to the end of the little island. You can walk over via the sand bank from the beach. It takes about 10 minutes to walk to the end, where you can see the blow hole.
9. Tauranga bike trails
There is a large cycling network in and around Tauranga City. You can easily discover the whole area by bike. There are signs everywhere telling you that you’re still on the right path and where you need to go.
10. Play disc Golf McLaren Falls Park
McLaren Falls Park is a short drive outside of Tauranga (approx. 20min) and is great for a swim in the man-made lake and to walk. But it’s also really cool for disc golf. The course is a full 18 baskets to play and you’ll have to bring your own discs as there is no rental place. Better bring several discs with you as you are likely to loose them in the forest.
11. Mossops Honey shop
On the way to McLaren Falls Park. Make sure you make a short stop at Mossops Honey shop. Not just because of the yummy honey and skin products you can buy there but mostly because of the live bee display. See what it looks like in a real bee hive, how the bee colony works and try to spot the queen in each hive. There is also loads of information about the little insects that are so important for life on earth.
What is your favourite activity in Tauranga? What did we forget to mention? Let us know in the comments below