Getting to the Bay of Plenty is a scenic adventure in itself. Most travellers arrive by car, bus or air —cruise ship if they’re lucky. It will take around three hours in the car to get from Auckland, and the region is wonderfully close to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula and the tourist meccas of Taupo and Rotorua. Sadly, the scenic rail link with Auckland folded some years ago. Once you’re here, you’ll find our towns friendly and compact, so exploring on foot is easy and pleasant.
Getting to & from Tauranga Air New Zealand flies from Tauranga to major New Zealand cities, including Auckland and Wellington. Some smaller companies like Sunair (tel 0800 786 247 www.sunair.co.nz) also offer flights to other centres such as Whakatane. The airport is located at Mount Maunganui, across the harbour from downtown Tauranga. There's a cafe, some visitor brochures but no tourist office. There are no rental car kiosks but a number of companies share a desk with a telephone that links direct to local offices. There are several options for getting to and from the city, including a taxi for around $12 in peak traffic, Bay Hopper bus, or a shuttle - you'll need to arrange in advance (see below).
Air New Zealand Air New Zealand Holidays Store, Cnr Devonport Road & Elizabeth Street, flight info. tel 577-7300 or reservations 0800-737-000, www.airnewzealand.co.nz ..The national airline flies daily direct to Tauranga from Auckland and Wellington. The Auckland flight takes 35 minutes, with fares starting from $88 one way, while the Wellington run is around 1.5 hours costing from $120.(Check Air New Zealand's Grabaseat page for heavily discounted fares, but be quick – they're snapped up fast). Air NZ can get you to Tauranga from many other NZ destinations via their provincial services. Book in advance or online for good discounts.
Tauranga's main bus terminal is conveniently located slap-bang outside the i-SITE Visitor Centre and Tauranga City Council headquarters in Willow Street. Intercity and Naked buses stop here, shuttle operators like Supa Travel Express use it for pickups and drop-offs.
Intercity Coachlines Book at the Visitor Centre, tel 578-8103, www.intercitycoach.co.nz New Zealand's largest coach network covers 600 destinations nationwide. Intercity runs two trips daily to and from Auckland (around $45 adult). Timetable and booking information is available from visitor centres. Bookings can also be made by telephone or via the website. A flexipass allows multiple journeys on the network —enquire for details.
Supa Travel Express is one of the most experienced local operators (tel 571-0583,www.supatravelexpress.com). The company provides a daily shuttle service between Tauranga, and the airports at Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua. Coastline Shuttles Tauranga , (tel 541-0888, www.coastlineshuttles.co.nz) is another local company running to and from Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua airports in smaller, air conditioned shuttle buses. Bookings preferred two or more days in advance. The Auckland airport link is $90 one-way, Hamilton $75, and Rotorua $70. Luxury Airport Shuttles (Tel 543-4812 or freephone 0800-454-678) Provides a daily, door-to-door service with Mercedes coaches and European cars to centres including Auckland ($80), Hamilton and Rotorua airports. Inconvenient fight times no problem. They cater for one to 25 passengers with discounts for groups.
Private & Chauffeured Transport Services
Elite Limousines (Ph 0508 4 ELITE, www.elitelimousines.co.nz) set the standard for premium chauffeured transportation in the Bay of Plenty region. They provide chauffeured vehicles in immaculate condition along with professional and knowledgeable drivers. Whether you wish to get to a business meeting, attend a wedding ceremony or see the sights of the Bay of Plenty, their aim is to make your journey as comfortable and pleasurable as possible. We are reliable, discreet and at all times professional and personable.
From the north, Tauranga is an easy 205-kilometre drive from Auckland along State Highway 2 through some lovely New Zealand towns, joining the Pacific Coast Highway in Waihi. The journey affords spectacular scenery: through gorges, alongside rivers and around harbours. The roads are windy but in good condition with regular passing lanes and good signage. Interesting towns to take a break in include Paeroa (look for the giant ‘Lemon and Paeroa' bottle and theme cafe), and Waihi, a gold mining town with a fascinating history.
From the south, it's a big drive to Tauranga from Wellington: 546km, seven-hours-plus. There's all sorts of stop-offs possible however, from the unique Army Museum at Waiouru, to the picturesque lakeside resort of Taupo. The drive north from Waiouru across the Desert Road to Taupo has majestic desert and mountain scenery.
Tauranga is only an hour away from Rotorua on a winding but scenic road. Some travellers arrive from the east, via Gisborne and the isolated and beautiful East Cape.
The city has one toll road: Route K is a two-lane expressway, with a $1 toll, which links State Highway 29 from Hamilton, directly with downtown Tauranga. If you've driven down out of the Kaimai Ranges towards Tauranga, this bypass is the quickest way to reach either the central business district —or access the Harbour Bridge and head on to Mount Maunganui.
Every year, dozens of cruise ships —usually from North American and European countries —pass through the Port of Tauranga. The ‘season' usually begins at the end of November and continues well into the following year. These floating cities usually moor near Salisbury Wharf, where passengers can stroll into downtown Mount Maunganui. They've included mega-liners like P&O's Star Princess, bigger than the world's biggest aircraft carrier. Cruise New Zealand, www.cruise-nz.com