18 of the best things to do in Tauranga

Tauranga is the largest city within the Bay of Plenty and is located on the ocean, right next to Mount Maunganui.

It’s amongst the most populated cities in the North Island and is known for offering its residents a wonderful work/life balance. As a visitor, you’ll benefit from all of the varied activities on offer, so we recommend spending at least a couple of days in the area if you can.

Whether you’re travelling as a couple, with the little ones, or you’re a solo traveller, there is something for everyone in Tauranga.

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The Top Things to Do in Tauranga

To help you make the most of your time in this scenic harborside city, we’ve handpicked the best things to do here.

Explore some of the farmers’ markets, chase nearby waterfalls, or challenge the whānau to mini-golf… whatever you choose, you won’t run out of activities to get stuck into.

So, let’s jump into the most popular places and activities in and around Tauranga…

1. Visit Tauranga Markets

If you love wandering around markets, picking up fresh produce and munching on snacks, then you’ve come to the right place.

There are two main options if you’re looking for fresh produce during your stay in Tauranga; the Tauranga Farmers’ Market and the nearby Papamoa Farmers’ Market.

The Tauranga Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 7.45 am until 12 pm. You’ll find a huge range of products there, including fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, pastries and flowers.

Alternatively, the Papamoa Farmers’ Market is held every Sunday from 8.30 am until 12 pm. They often have live music there, and a children’s playground for the little ones too, alongside the fresh produce you’d expect.

Other popular markets include the Little Big Markets, Dinner in the Domain, and Hello Rosie.

Tauranga Farmers’ Market: 31 Fifth Avenue, Tauranga 3110

Papamoa Farmers’ Market: 58 Ashley Place, Papamoa Beach, Papamoa 3118

Red, reddish green, and yellow tomatoes displayed in white packs.

2. See the Hairy Maclary Bronze Sculptures

Visiting the Hairy Maclary Bronze Sculptures is one of the best things to do in Tauranga – particularly if you’ve got kids in tow, or you were a fan of these famous books yourself.

Hairy Maclary is a world-famous book series that’s written by Dame Lynley Todd. The stories follow a rouge pooch and his four-legged friends and they’re quite the hit with children.

Today her iconic characters stand proud in Tauranga and have become one of the city’s most popular attractions.

Crafted by Brigitte Wuest, the sculptures are located at the waterfront so have an incredibly scenic backdrop.

You can get right up to them, take some photographs, and even allow the little ones to catch a ride on of the statues.

The Strand, Tauranga 3110

Statue of a dog lying on the ground while a duck whispers in his ear.
Photo credit: Shellie Evans.

3. Play a Game of Mini-Golf

Challenging your family, partner, or friends to a game of mini-golf is another great activity in Tauranga.

Mini Golf Tauranga is home to an 18-hole mini-golf course, and you’ll often find there are prizes available too! Sometimes you can win a cornetto ice cream if you get a hole in one on the first hole, or you can even win a free round for your next visit.

If you’ve got little ones there are also electric jeep rides available for children over the age of one. They’re a real hit!

We recommend taking a picnic along and making a day of it, or grabbing some snacks from the concessions found on-site.

11th Ave, Tauranga 3110

Mini golf course in Tauranga with lighting posts, umbrella, and trees.

4. Visit Tauranga’s Historic Village

If you head to The Historic Village you’ll find an array of historic buildings, that are now home to art galleries, craft stores, clothing stores, and cafes.

As you wander past the quirky buildings and along the cobblestone streets, you’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

Even if you only have 10 minutes to spare, it’s worth paying a visit to this place, especially as entry is free!

If you want to learn more about the historic village then you can take a look at the heritage displays located in the Village Chapel and Faulkner House.

17th Ave West, Tauranga South, Tauranga 3112

Walking in the middle of the road with dogs on leash in the Historic Village.

5. Visit the Tauranga Art Gallery

Although only small, Tauranga Art Gallery is a great place to visit during your trip to the area.

There are four individual galleries here, so you won’t need more than 30 minutes to look around but it’s definitely worth a visit.

The exhibitions and artwork here are constantly changing, and they’re updated on the website, allowing you to check if they interest you before planning out your itinerary.

Best of all, entry into Tauranga Art Gallery is free for New Zealand residents. And as it’s located in Tauranga’s CBD, you won’t have to go out of your way either.

108 Willow Street, Tauranga 3141

A huge stairway and a few people looking at the various paintings of Gallery Atrium.

6. Visit McLaren Falls Park

McLaren Falls Park is a 20-minute drive outside of Tauranga and is definitely worth the trip.

The park covers an impressive area of 190 hectares, so as you can imagine there is plenty to do!

One of the highlights of this park is the waterfall track which (you guessed it) will take you to a beautiful secluded waterfall.

The walk takes about 10-minutes and if you head there after dusk, you’ll get to see some of New Zealand’s famous glow worms.

McLaren Falls Park is also home to one of the best botanical collections in the country, so is a great place to spend a couple of hours.

This is one of the top things to do in Tauranga so don’t leave it out.

190 McLaren Falls Road, Omanawa 3171

Tourists exploring the rocky crevices of McLaren Falls.

7. Have Some Fun at Waimarino Water & Adventure Park

You’ll find a wide range of thrilling water-based activities at Waimarino Water & Adventure Park, including (but not limited to):

  • the flying inflatable blob
  • an over-water rockwall
  • floating trampolines
  • a hydroslide that you can even ride in a kayak
  • a Tarzan swing
  • kayaking in the river

Whether you’re young or young at heart, this place is the stuff of real Kiwi memories!

36 Taniwha Place, Bethlehem, Tauranga 3172

Man with lifejacket riding a pointed banana boat while being launched on a slide in Waimarino Adventure Park in Tauranga.

8. Head Out on a Glow Worm Tour

Heading out on a glow-worm tour is one of the most exciting things to do in this beautiful area! However, these tour are unique as you’ll be witnessing these mysterious creatures from a canoe or kayak.

Under the watchful eye of your guide, you’ll head out under dark starry skies, enjoying Tauranga’s natural wonders as you paddle around McLaren Lake.

You’ll then be captivated by the magical light of thousands of glow worms as you head into the glow worm canyon!

Trust us, this is an experience you don’t want to miss.

36a Taniwha Place, Bethlehem, Tauranga 3172

Tourists paddling a boat and seeing glow-worms.

9. Go White Water Rafting

If you’re looking for an adventure, then why not go white water rafting in Tauranga [save 10% using the promo code NZTT]?

This awesome experience will take you down the Wairoa River, where you’ll head through turbulent rapids and over exciting drops.

The scenery here is pretty special too, so make sure you admire the tree-lined gorge as you head down the river!

It’s important to note that this white water rafting tour is very technical as it’s a grade 5. For this reason, it’s not recommended for people who can’t swim.

10. Enjoy Dolphins in Their Natural Habitat

A dolphin cruise is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Tauranga!

Join a 5-hour dolphin cruise, where you’ll get to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. During the cruise, you can either admire them from the boat or grab your snorkels and jump in!

Dolphins love to play, and will happily swim alongside you in the water so we’d definitely recommend the second option.

This experience will leave you with memories to last a lifetime, making it a real highlight for those onboard.

It’s also worth noting that these cruises run from November to May, so you’ll have to time your visit if this is on your list.

Dolphins swimming and jumping on the blue waters.

11. Visit Te Puna Quarry Park

Te Puna Quarry Park is a public park that’s open every day. It’s also free which is real budget-friendly bonus.

As you wander through the park you’ll get to see a variety of outdoor art and sculptures, plant life, and panoramic views over the Bay of Plenty.

This beautiful park covers an impressive 32 hectares and is split up into three different sections. One section is well-developed, another is a regenerative native forest, and the third section is completely wild.

There are also plenty of ponds, gardens, walkways, and picnic lawns throughout making it the ultimate family day out.

Visiting Te Puna Quarry Park is a must for those that love being outdoors.

110 Te Puna Quarry Road, RD 7, Te Puna 3179

A lizard sticking on the stone in Te Puna Quarry.

12. Head to Tauranga’s Waterfront

Spending some time at the waterfront is one of the best things to do in Tauranga – especially if you have children.

Not only is there a huge playground there, but you’ll also find a sandpit, a bombing platform and a splash pad that’s perfect for cooling down on a warm day.

Kids playing in Tauranga Water Fountains.
Photo credit: Katy Perry.

The newest addition, however, to this area are the tidal steps.

This popular attraction steps head down into Tauranga Harbour from the Strand, allowing people to swim right there. A story and karakia about the city have been built into the steps, though the amount you can see is dependent on the tide levels. There is also a beautiful poem etched into the steps too!

Kids sitting down bare feet with their caps on.
Photo credit: Katy Perry.

13. Visit the Elms

The Elms (Te Papa Tauranga) is one of the oldest heritage sites in New Zealand, and one of the most historic buildings in Tauranga.

Covering an area of one hectare, it is home to beautiful gardens and listed buildings.

You can take a guided tour through this historic house and library to get an understanding of its history, admiring the incredible architecture inside.

Guided tours of the grounds are also available which focus on the native plant life and specimens that are found there.

Whether you choose to explore independently or on a guided tour, this is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of life.

15 Mission Street, Tauranga 3110

Old book with music notes in the Elms Te Papa, Tauranga.

14. Explore Tauranga Memorial Park

Tauranga Memorial Park is located next to the harbour, covering an area of 11 hectares.

It’s the perfect place to relax or lounge in the sun with a picnic. There are even free BBQ facilities here for the perfect summer evening!

The park also has plenty of amenities including two children’s playgrounds, a water fountain, a skate ramp, a miniature railway and the iconic Humpty Dumpty (he’s 50 years old!) 

Depending on the time of year, you might even enjoy one of the many events held here.

Tauranga Memorial Park is another great place for families. Your whānau will enjoy spending an hour or two here!

Eleventh Avenue, Tauranga 3110

Kids playing on the seesaw in Tauranga Memorial Park.
Photo credit: Katy Perry, NZTT member.

15. Go Horse Riding

There are a couple of options near Tauranga if you want to go horse riding.

However, we recommend Huntaway Farms Horse Trekking for calm, well-mannered horses and patient guides.

You’ll get to learn how to ride a horse and the basics of caring for these beautiful creatures, while taking in epic scenery along the way.

As they operate on a working beef cattle farm, you’ll see all of the comings and goings of authentic farm life, making this experience all the more special. In addition, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the mountains and sea, as you also ride through native bush.

What a wonderful way to connect with nature.

784 Whataroa Road, Ngawaro 3188 — a 40-minute drive from the city centre.

Tourists horse trekking in the forest of Tauranga.

16. Visit Kaiate Falls

Kaiate Falls (also known as Te Rerekawau) is a must-visit during your stay in Tauranga.

Made up of two waterfalls, Kaiate Falls is pretty impressive with its cumulative height of around 25m (82 feet).

The trail begins at the car park and is relatively easy to follow, as it’s just a single dirt track. Although quite steep in sections, the trail to the falls is worth it!

You’ll reach the top of the falls first, before hiking down to the base of the upper series. The trail will then take you down to the lower falls so you’ll get to see it from every angle.

Near 126 Kaiate Falls Rd, Waitao 3175 — a 20-minute drive from the city centre.

Small waterfalls hidden in the forest.
Photo credit: russellstreet.

17. Challenge Yourself at Adrenalin Forest

Adrenalin Forest is a popular activity in the area, particularly for those who are after a challenge.

It’s a high-wire obstacle course that runs through a pine forest and is suitable for all fitness and confidence levels – though it does get pretty difficult!

There are child-friendly obstacles, or you can tackle the ultra-challenging obstacles if you’re feeling up to it. Throughout this course, you’ll head over bridges, cross nets, swing high in the air and ride flying foxes.

If you’re planning to go there as a family, it’s important to note that children need to be at least 1.4m tall.

The Adrenaline Forest is a 30-minute drive from Tauranga City Centre.

Woman riding a zip line in the Adrenaline Forest.

18. Pay a Visit to Mount Maunganui

Just 10-minutes from central Tauranga, you’ll find Mount Maunganui. This stunning seaside town offers Gold-Coast vibes right here in Aotearoa.

Choose to climb ‘the Mount’, try your hand at surfing, go rock climbing, or any number of worthwhile things to do in the area.

It’s the perfect getaway from Tauranga and as it’s so close, it’s incredibly convenient.

No trip to the region is complete without paying a visit to Mt Maunganui!

The view of the Bay of Plenty and the cities as seen from Mount Maunganui.

As you can see, there are plenty of awesome things to do in Tauranga, so allow yourself enough time to enjoy it all. There’s no need to rush here.

Have you ever been to Tauranga?

If you have, make sure to drop your favourite places/activities in the comments below!

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