Free and Budget Things to Do

Free and Budget Things to Do

Walk the white sand beaches that stretch for kilometres down the coast from Mount Maunganui, down through Papamoa. People in some countries don’t have free access to beaches this fine! They certainly don’t get ‘em this uncrowded.  

Climb to Mt Maunganui’s (Mauao’s) summit and walk the circular base track.
The base track walk takes around 45 minutes. The sweeping harbour views from the summit are stunning and the hot saltwater pools at the base of the peak make a pleasant finale.

Stroll along The Strand on the colourful waterfront... Soak up a lively atmosphere of Tauranga’s bar, restaurant and cafe precinct. Check the information boards for a quick history lesson. 

Take the historic Tauranga city walk...Visit the old Bond Store, Hotel St Amand, and Monmouth Redoubt. Take in more history at the Battle of Gate Pa site on Cameron Road, and at other sites.

Boat spotting...Tauranga’s two big marinas at Sulphur Point near the city and near the harbour bridge on the Mount side, are full of yachts, motor launches and a few craft that defy description. Charter boats can whisk nature lovers out to swim with dolphins, and encounter seals and bird life.

Visit the glorious Georgian gardens of the Elms Colonial Mission House. These carefully tended grounds have fine kauri, rimu and orange trees and kiwifruit orchards. It’s one of New Zealand’s most historic buildings, dating back to the 1800’s. Tour inside for a small fee to step back in time.  

Step back in time at the Tauranga Historic Village in 17th Avenue West.  The Village is a collection of original and replica buildings taken from early Tauranga and placed in a unique setting of gardens and bush surrounds. Look for the historic chapel and Faulkner House, built in 1844.     

Visit the stylish art deco winery - Mills Reef at Bethlehem – to taste the current releases. Usually some wines on special in the tasting room. Beautiful gardens, local musicians play on Sundays. 

Take in some of the best views in the Bay of Plenty from the Minden Lookout. The lookout is 286 metres high with commanding views out to sea over orchards, farmland and suburbs. Just 20 minutes from downtown Tauranga – turn right at Te Puna.

Drive out to McLaren Falls Park on State Highway 29 in the Lower Kaimais. See one of the best botanical collections of trees in New Zealand, and visit Marshall’s Animal Park. The kayak trip through the glow-worm grotto on Lake McLaren is highly rated.

Shops by the beach...Visit Bayfair Shopping Centre at Mt Maunganui, the Palm Beach Plaza, Papamoa, and Fashion Island also at Papamoa. These retail centres are a shopper’s delight with top fashion stores and excellent food courts.

Visit Te Puke, the ‘Kiwifruit Capital of the World’. Drop in to Kiwi 360 and take the KiwiKart orchard tour, visit the gift shop for skin care and other products made from kiwifruit.

Visit Katikati, New Zealand's ‘Mural Town.’ This planned Irish Ulster settlement has colourful murals painted on buildings, and Barry the Kiwi Bloke statue, along with the unique haiku walkway that runs beside a clear flowing stream. 

Explore the Kaimai Forest Park. This bush clad backdrop to Tauranga and Katikati is easily accessible and offers superb native bush walks. The Park is 37,000 hectares of parkland filled with native forest and rare bird life. See the Department of Conservation for details.

The Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage Park combines Maori pa sites, stands of native forest and farmland, and spectacular views over the Bay of Plenty coastline. The highest point is 224 metres.  Head from Tauranga to Te Puke on State Highway 2 for about 20 kms, and turn right into Poplar Lane.  

Soak in one of the Tauranga’s district’s heavenly hot’s a cheap way to get outdoors and have some fun – and save on your shower bills. See Best of Tauranga’s Hot Pools section in Things to Do. You’ll also find lots more information relating to our other tips. 

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