208km (129 miles) SE of Auckland; 86km (53 miles) NW of Rotorua
Tauranga is no longer the sleepy place of my childhood holidays. Somewhere along the way, it has transformed itself into a sort of miniature version of Australia's Gold Coast. Today, it is New Zealand's second-fastest-growing area after Queenstown. It has a population of about 104,000 and boasts 2,400 hours of sunshine per year. Tauranga and its nearby beachfront neighbor, Mount Maunganui, are confident, thriving urban centers, and no matter what time of year you visit, you'll be spoiled with choices for anything related to outdoor beach-driven activity.