Located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, almost three hours from Auckland, is a small peninsula surrounded by tranquil waters. Tauranga is the pride and joy of the Bay of Plenty and is New Zealand’s fifth largest city with a population of more than 115,000 people.
Tauranga is the perfect escape for lovers of the great outdoors, and the great indoors too. Whether it be shopping, dining or art gallery hopping, there is something for everyone.
12pm — Stay
Located on the outskirts of Tauranga is the Trinity Wharf Tauranga Hotel, which stretches out over the harbour. The hotel itself is central to all Tauranga has to offer and is the perfect base for a short visit. Trinity Wharf also has a beautiful Halo Dining restaurant on the hotel’s exclusive balcony with incredible views. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or even just for a nightcap. You could almost have the perfect get away without even leaving the hotel.
12.30pm — Visit
As with most places in New Zealand, Tauranga has beautifully preserved historic buildings that are worth a stop if you are around the area. The Old Post Office is a local treasure, just looking at it is a complete time warp, its colouration nothing like its surroundings. It is supposedly one of the largest wooden buildings in this hemisphere. If you want to see a piece of Tauranga’s history as it was back in the early 1900s take a detour down Harrington Street.
1.30pm — Shop
If you’re in the mood it is also worthwhile visiting the exclusive Bethlehem Jewellers and browse the exquisite custom-made New Zealand pieces. Their speciality is bespoke diamond items but being the largest workshop in the area you are bound to find something you love.
3.30pm — Hike
An 11-minute drive away is the paradise that is Mount Maunganui. On the very edge of the Tauranga peninsula, not only is the Mount a shopping and industrial hub but it is home to a volcanic summit that provides 231m above sea level views of Tauranga and surrounds. This is a must do, though it is a steep walk, and an almost 4km round trip — an hour-and-a-half of your life you will never regret spending.
6pm — Eat
To reward yourself for your small hike, visit the Mills Reef Winery & Restaurant. Since 1989, the Preston family have been producing Mills Reef wines, some of the highest class produce from the Hawke’s Bay region, you can even take home a bottle. The restaurant is art-deco themed, with both indoor and outdoor setting for 150 people, and is home to some of the best culinary creations in the South Pacific.
7.30pm — See
Post-dinner, the Tauranga Musical Theatre is a great place to unwind and enjoy some of New Zealand’s best local talent on stage. The musical community in Tauranga has been around since 1932 and have since moved to a bigger more extravagant building, producing close to 70 shows within their small town. Their current instalments include Rock of Ages and Mary Poppins, sure to suit both a couple or a family.
9am — Rise
Start your day right by visiting the Elizabeth Café and Larder for good food and surroundings. Elizabeth Café has been around since 2012 and is themed around the Queen herself, which pop culture paintings dressing the walls and has won awards for food quality and the hearts of locals. Go and see the Queen if you are a hungry loyal subject.
10am — Visit
The Tauranga Art Gallery was the first public art gallery established in the Bay of Plenty and is home to a broad range of art. The gallery has hosted some of the world’s most prestigious art including the likes of Banksy, but is also responsible for local arts projects too which gives you a taste of culture from both near and far. TAG, opened in 2007, is located in the heart of the CBD but has a contemporary design that helps it stick out like nothing else in the city. The architectural feats are just as admirable as the works of art themselves. Entry to the gallery is free, which means that maybe one visit is never quite enough.
11.30am — Shop
If you only visit one store in the area it must be Sister & Co. A luxury department store with beauty, homeware, clothes, shoes and most importantly world renowned brands. Sister & Co is a small-town Smith & Caughey’s, but possibly better, stocking everything from Alexander Wang to Deadly Ponies. The premise of the store is bringing all the brands that are spread out both nationally or internationally together into one hub.
Words: Laura Reid