Downtown Tauranga is an awesome little harbourside shopping destination in New Zealand. Bustling with activities from Monday to Sunday, Tauranga is the perfect place to go for shopping and dining. Take a stroll along the water’s edge, savour local flavors at a trendy bar or cruise the harbour on one of the many tours available.
Like most cities, Tauranga has plenty going on but what makes Tauranga different from other tourist destinations is the scenery; it’s not every day you get to shop right next to the ocean. Nestled beneath the Kaimai ranges and perched on the harbour’s edge, this is a dream destination to visit. Read on for activities not to be missed!
1. Take a day or two or three for shopping!
Shopping in Tauranga is all about variety. The shopping district or ‘downtown Tauranga’ as it is known runs a few blocks north and east with the main centre based around Devonport road. If it’s boutique shopping or surf gears that you are after, there is plenty to offer. There is a handful of dollar shops located throughout the shopping district where you can pick up some great bargains. Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure at the many walk-in parlours. Weekends mean sales and the occasional event or two. The council’s tourism website for Tauranga (featured at the end of article) lets you know the latest events and information.
2. Restaurants aplenty: Feast on a variety of cuisines
Tauranga’s food range is amazing and there are some great places to eat at! Cobb and Co is perfect for families and Brooklyn Patio & Eatery is a great place to share a dish with friends (try their pork belly and crème brulee for melt-in-your-mouth food). For those who are craving for Asian cuisines, there are many sushi bars. Tanked juice bar offers healthy smoothies for a refreshing drink after your long day shopping. There is a Yum Cha restaurant located at the top of Devonport road that provides both dine in and takeaway options.
There is a popular local fish and chips shop, the Fresh Fish Market, on the waterfront. With the boat parked out front, you can’t get much fresher than this.
3. Discover arts and grab your copy of Hairy Maclary!
There is a good range of art galleries and craft shops in Tauranga city. The Cargo Shed is the main art gallery in the city and yes it is on the waterfront! Here you can see and purchase locally made items from canvas prints to jewelleries crafted by talented local artisans. In fact, while you are here, make sure you buy a copy of the popular Hairy Maclary book, a national icon created in Tauranga! Ask anyone and they will know this book series for children. There are sculptures of the book characters located at different points around the shopping district.
Another great place to visit for shopping and cafe style food is the Historic Village. Set in a 1900’s themed area, you can wander around the shops and feel like you’ve been transported back in time.
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4. Relax in a thermal pool set amidst native bush
Tauranga is lucky to be set amongst rolling hillside and beautiful native New Zealand bush, allowing one to enjoy native birds such as the Tui or Kereru (wood pigeon). Fernland Spa Thermal Mineral Springs is located a mere 10 minute drive from the main city centre and is uniquely set in New Zealand bush.
At Fernland Spa, you can hire your own private thermal spa pool with a shelter or an open roof. The latter is especially recommended at night time so you can relax and unwind while enjoying the beautiful night sky above you. These pools can be hired for about 12 USD for two adults for 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can swim in the public pool, which is set under trees and native bush for around 5 USD per adult. You can also stay here if you are travelling in a motorhome. Full facilities are available if you do. There are free BBQ’s and picnic tables if you wish to dine before or after your swim.
5. Enjoy the countryside at McLaren’s Falls Park
If a nice walk through New Zealand bush is what you are after, there are many good options for you to choose from. You will need a car to get to these but they are no more than a 20 minute drive from the main city. McLaren Falls Park is a great place to view the amazing waterfall and if you are brave enough, try swimming amongst the rock pools at the top. There is accommodation available here in the way of camping and motorhomes, or you can just grab a picnic blanket and find a spot under a tree and enjoy the quiet. There is a lake with ducks and people sometimes bring along their kayaks or blow up boats, which you can too. There is a walk through area that has glow worms in it, you can do this walk in the evening and there are guided tours available from the information centre located at the entrance to the park.
Spoilt for choices in Tauranga
You really will be spoilt for choices in Tauranga. Not only is this small seaside city located in one of the most beautiful regions of New Zealand, it has a great selection of activities to do! Easily accessible Auckland city (only a 2 hour drive or a short 30 minute flight), there really is no reason not to visit Tauranga!
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