1. History of Tauranga
Traditional landing place of the Waka (Canoes) Takitimu, Tainui and Mataatua about the 12th century when the original emigration of Maori arrived in Aotearoa, today Maori presence is represented by 24 Marae (meeting houses) in the area. The Ongarahu Pa site can be visited at the Huharua Reserve on Plummer's Point, where an impressive entrance (Whakaruruhau) has been recently added. The early European settlement is dated from the 1830s with the establishment of a Mission, The Elms, in 1847, which still remains. A Georgian homestead, in fine condition, it houses a library today. During the Wars of the 1860s, two redoubts were built here, and the shape of the Monmouth fortification (Taumatakahawai Pa) is still able to be seen. History is remembered in the Tauranga Historic Village on 17th Ave. The cobbled streets, unusual in New Zealand, and the buildings are in a setting of well-maintained gardens and bushland. A number of shops and art and gift outlets make this an attractive area.
2. 'The Mount'
One of New Zealand's prime holiday destinations, Mount Manganui is a mountain nearly completely surrounded by water. The sheltered Pilot's Bay contrasts with the open Pacific Ocean offering the best of surfing beaches. The extinct volcanic mountain, Mauao, offers great walking opportunities, and fantastic views, with the base track 3.4 km in length. Said to be New Zealand's most popular walk, the Pohutukawa trees coating the beach foreshores are typically Kiwi, and as scenic as any in the world. The summit offers the best of views in all directions, plus the remains of early Maori activity. The Mount area is a hive of water-based activity and is the home of the country's only hot Salt Water pools. Main Beach here has been voted one of the best 25 beaches in the world. Close to the shore is Moturiki (Leisure) Island can be walked to at low tide from Mt Maunganui Beach, has blowholes to watch on the ocean coast, and fantastic views of the coastline.
3. Adrenalin Rush
Tauranga has a number of highly energetic, exciting attractions to keep visitors entertained. Designed for all age groups (over 2 years), Rocktopia's 31 different climbs keep the family amused, while other adventures such as Wakeboarding, Abseiling and White-Water Rafting are available as well. well. River Rats have Grade 5 river rafting on the Wairoa River for serious adrenalin junkies, while there are a number of surf schools in the area. Adrenalin Forest offers a multi-level obstacle course that tests your physical and mental skills as you are challenged to defeat each level. For an adventure on the water, book a Dolphin Safari, where you get to swim with dolphins, and perhaps see Whales, Orca and Seals in their natural environment.
4. Surrounding Islands
Near Tauranga are a number of nearby islands, the most interesting of these being New Zealand's active marine volcano, White Island (Whakaari). A visit to this offshore geothermic zone is a once in a lifetime thrill, with walks up to the crater edge through ash that has coated paths and landscape. Like the moon, it gives the impression of 'walking where no man has gone before'. Mayor Island (Tuhua) is also a popular destination, especially for divers as and deep-sea fishermen. The island is a reserve and is known for the obsidian deposits from the volcano, and is available for overnight camping. Motiti (Flat Island) is known to have a good population of Tuatara, while Whale Island (Moutohora) is a wildlife reserve with all exotic species removed. Important species at home on this island are Tuatara, Saddlebacks, Brown Kiwi and about 95,000 pairs of grey-faced Petrels. Matakana is a 21-mile long sand island that has a large number of nesting seabirds in season. Watch out for the endangered NZ Dotterel nesting in the vegetation of the dunes.
Recently a trail of sculptures appeared on the Tauranga waterfront to the delight of all visitors. Sculpted in bronze, Hairy Maclary is accompanied by his friends Slinky Malinki, Scarface Claw, Hercules Morse, Zachary Quack, Muffin McLay, Bottomley Potts, Bitzer Maloney, and Schnitzel von Krumm. Another bronze statue important to the city of Tauranga is Tangaroa, the God of the Seas, who stands challenging the ships that enter the Tauranga Harbour. It was erected in 1976 to commemorate the centenary of the Port of Tauranga.
The Elms Adult $15 Child $7.50
Historic Village on 17th FOC
Mt Maunganui Hot Pools Adult $14 Child $9
Rocktopia Adult $17 Under 5 years $13
Wakeboarding, Mountain Biking $80 pp (2 hours)
White Water Rafting from Adult $110 Child $90
Abseiling $50 pp (3 hours)
Outdoor Rock Climbing $90 pp (4 hours) min.2 ppl
River Rats Rafting $129 pp
Adrenalin Forest Adult $43 Child $28
Dolphin Safari from $110 pp
White Island from Tauranga Adult $349 Child $260
From Whakatane Adult $219 Child $130
Mayor Island, Motiti, Whale Island from Tauranga POA
Matakana Island Ferry Car $25 Adult $5 Child $2.50