A beautiful small city in northeastern New Zealand, Tauranga is a fun alternative to staying in Rotorua or Taupo. There’s plenty to see and do in the city itself, plus it’s a convenient base for exploring the upper North Island. Here are some ways to make the most of three days in Tauranga.
Day 1: See the city
Nature is the star of Tauranga’s show, and you don’t have to leave the city to experience it. On your first day, hike up 761-foot (232-meter) Mount Maunganui for sweeping views of the city and ocean. Alternatively, wander around town on a self-guided walking tour. In the afternoon, head out onto the water on a sightseeing cruise, a dolphin-spotting excursion, or a kayaking tour, stopping at some of the islands and bays around Tauranga Harbour. In the evening, try some local seafood and North Island wine at a waterfront restaurant.
Day 2: Visit White Island
Take a day trip to White Island, an active volcano just 56 miles (90 kilometers) off the coast of Tauranga. One of the most accessible active volcanoes in the world, White Island can be reached by helicopter (the more expensive option) or boat. See steam vents, bubbling mud, and lakes of acid while learning about the local geology. You might even get to go for a swim—at a safe distance from any geothermal activity, that is. Safety equipment is provided if needed, so just relax and enjoy the experience.
Day 3: Get active
New Zealand is an outdoor adventure lover’s playground, and some of the best adrenaline-inducing activities in the country are just a short trip from Tauranga. For white-water rafting (no prior experience necessary) or kayaking, head to the Wairoa River or Kaituna River. Alternatively, go hiking in one of the natural areas near Tauranga, such as McLaren Falls Park, where you’ll find waterfalls, dense native bush, and many trails to follow.
Round off your stay in and around Tauranga with a late afternoon or evening dip in one of the city’s famous public pools. Soak in saltwater baths and naturally sourced hot pools, a restorative way to revive your tired body after a busy three days.