For outdoorsy folk, Tauranga is the place to be these summer holidays. The golden beaches and lush parks are the ideal location for surfing, kitesurfing, golfing, hiking and generally being at one with nature. Hire an NZ campervan
and explore the costal city and its surrounds.
Sitting at the entrance to one of the largest natural harbours in New Zealand, the sunny city of Tauranga has an attractive waterfront and seaside mentality.
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Campervans and sleepervans are hugely popular in New Zealand. Smaller vans can come without a shower and toilet, so holiday parks and well-equipped campsites are the way to go. Fortunately, there are hundreds of campsites and freedom camping options throughout the country.
Attractions and things to do in Tauranga
Mt Maunganui is one of the most impressive beaches in New Zealand, with soft white sand and stunning vistas in summer or winter. There’s plenty of space on the beach, beach volleyball nets and dolphins playing in the surf. The drive in your campervan is only 15 minutes and the small costal town is quaint and a must-see.
Just a short walk along Mt Maunganui beach and easily reached on foot at low tide is Moturiki Island. Look out for the Blow Hole at the seaward end – it’s a spectacular sight, especially when rough. The climb to the top of Mount Maunganui is not a hard one but the views are spectacular. Bring your camera for beautiful sunset snaps of Tauranga Harbour and Port. There’s also a 45-minute walk around the base if your legs aren’t up to reaching the summit.
Take a refreshing dip in the swimming holes by Kaiate Falls or take a walk into the fairy-tale landscape of the upper falls. It’s a great stop on the way to Mt Maunganui. Pack the camper with supplies from the local supermarket and head down for a picnic. Or the McLaren falls are only a 10-minute drive in your camper. Fishing, sailing, diving and dolphin tours in the Bay of Plenty are also easy to arrange at any time of the year.
Omokaroa is one of the better golf courses in Tauranga, as it’s challenging for young and old. Certainly a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
Food and drink – Tauranga restaurants and bars
The Strand waterfront area has undergone a major redevelopment in recent years and is home to a number of cafes, restaurants, pubs and nightclubs.
Imbibe Bar and Grill Restaurant is a beacon for the locals. Staff are friendly and it’s hard to go past the stonegrill. You’ll also find portion sizes to be rather generous in the Bay. For woodfire pizza head to Brooklyn Patio and Eatery. Cheesy and delicious, they’re hard to beat.
Every Saturday at Tauranga Primary School is the Tauranga Farmers’ Market. Sample regional treats including organic breads, smoked meat and cheeses, delicious pastries and fresh fruit and vegies. Pats Pies are winners of the Supreme Pie Award for several years. Whether it’s chicken, mince, steak or the classic bacon & egg, search out a Pats Pie when hunger strikes you while visiting the bay. It’s a New Zealand rite of passage!
Rest for the night: motorhome accommodation in Tauranga
Omokoroa Thermal Holiday Park is a relaxing getaway after spending night upon night in a camper. Spoil yourself and enjoy the thermal hot pools free for those staying in the park. Despite the pools, it is still relatively budget friendly and has excellent facilities for your motorhome holiday.
Golden Grove Holiday Park is situated in Mt Maunganui and is an ideal place to pull up in your campervan. Whether you’re alone or packing the whole family in the back, there’s always something to see or do in the Mount.
Tauranga Tourist Park makes being a camper easy. The internet is quick and cheap and spots are clean and practical.
Road trip itineraries
Whakatane is a good distance away for a day drive. Follow costal roads south to Ohope beach – an 11km stretch of sun-bleached sand and clear blue waters. The West End is a favourite with surfers. If you’re keen on fishing, Ohiwa Harbour offers near-perfect conditions, as well as water-skiing, sailing, kayaking and windsurfing. Getting to Whakatane, you’ll head through Te Puke, kiwifruit capital of New Zealand. You won’t miss the giant kiwifruit, but be sure to taste all the sugary treats, too. As you go south, plan a visit to White Island, New Zealand's only active island volcano.
Travelling north in your motorhome will take you around some of New Zealand’s most stunning coastlines. Hidden beaches and beautiful walks are dotted along the drive. Ask the locals about swimming spots, or find the idyllic Cathedral Cove. From beautiful Hahei Beach you can walk to the beach from the north. It will take an hour and the walking track leads along the cliff top, then descends to the Cove. The namesake cathedral-like arch is a perfect photo opportunity. The beach is sandy with shady pohutukawa trees – ideal for a picnic and a swim. You’ll need to leave the campervan at the car park in Hahei, so remember to lock up all your belongings.
Please don’t miss out on Hot Water beach. If you go one hour either side of low tide, you can dig yourself your own personal spa (or wait until someone else moves over and steal theirs). Volcanoes underground have created reservoirs of superheated water. At Hot Water Beach that water escapes to the surface — cooling on the way. Temperatures can be up to 64 degrees.
For those that are interested in a larger, more substantial motorhome adventure, consider heading south to New Zealand's South Island, visiting centres in your campervan including Christchurch or Queenstown.