Planning a Trip
By Plane -- Air New Zealand National & Link (tel. 0800/767-767 in NZ), operates daily flights from Tauranga and Whakatane to Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.
By Coach (Bus) -- InterCity (tel. 09/913-6100) and Newmans (tel. 09/913-6200) both operate daily services between Tauranga and Auckland, Napier, Rotorua, Taupo, Thames, and Wellington. The Magic Travellers (tel. 09/358-5600) buses also stop in Tauranga en route to Rotorua.
By Car -- Drive south from Auckland on State Highway 1, then go east on State Highway 2; the trip takes around 3 hours. From the Coromandel Peninsula, take Highway 25 or 26 to Waihi and pick up Highway 2; this route takes about 1 1/2 hours. If you're coming from Hamilton, the trip takes 1 1/2 hours, and from Rotorua, around 1 hour.
Once you get used to the frequent roundabouts, you'll find this an easy city to navigate. Edgewater is the beautifully paved product of multimillion-dollar Inner City redevelopment. It's one of the prettiest downtown areas in the country. Cameron Road is the main arterial route. The toll bridge offers a shortcut to Mount Maunganui, where you'll find that Project Phoenix has converted the downtown shopping area into a palm-filled promenade that's hard to beat. Ocean Beach features great stretches of sand and a growing number of high-rise apartments and holiday homes. More than 60km (37 miles) of continuous white-sand beach runs from Mount Maunganui to Whakatane.
Some distance out from Tauranga, expect to share the road with a scary number of huge trucks, all bound for the port. The traffic flow is fast and often congested. Public transport is limited within Tauranga itself. Walk if you can.
The Tauranga i-SITE Visitor Centre, Civic Centre, 95 Willow St. (tel. 07/578-8103; fax 07/578-7020), is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm, and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 5pm. Pick up a free copy of the excellent Bay of Plenty Visitor Guide. The Mount Maunganui i-SITE Visitor Centre is on Salisbury Avenue (tel. 07/575-5099; fax 07/578-7020). The Katikati Information Centre is at 36 Main Rd. (tel. 07/549-1658; fax 07/549-1798). For more information on the area, check out www.bayofplentynz.com, www.cityoftauranga.co.nz, and www.tauranga.co.nz.
Tauranga and Mount Maunganui offer a profusion of summer events that cover everything from ironman competitions and yachting regattas to beauty pageants and jazz festivals. Pick up the free Oceanfest guide to summer events at the visitor center, call tel. 07/577-7209, or visit www.bayofplentynz.com/events for more information.