With a population of 124,000, the port city of Tauranga is the largest in the Bay of Plenty, and one of New Zealand’s fastest growing areas. The Strand area along the waterfront has become home to cafés, restaurants, bars and a buzzing nightlife over the last several years. Tauranga is also a major centre for the surrounding kiwifruit growing region; most of the work is available during the winter harvest months.
Mount Maunganui, on a peninsula just north of its twin city of Tauranga, is a more popular holiday destination with Kiwis than with international travellers. Its main feature is the large dormant volcano that dominates the landscape. The 16km white sandy surf beach is considered one of the top surf spots in New Zealand. There’s a good selection of shops and eateries along the Mount’s main street, and the town is home to the massive Bayfair shopping centre. Other attractions include hot salt water pools and hikes up to the top of the volcano cone, a rewarding experience.
Both Tauranga and Mount Maunganui have their unique attractions and both cities offer good accommodation options. Mount Maunganui has the beach and a resort-town feel, but Tauranga offers a more vibrant urban setting. Your choice, but it’s hard to go too far wrong either way.
Baybus run urban and suburban bus routes in the Tauranga and Mount Maunganui area. A one-way trip costs $3.40 or you can buy a Day Saver ticket for $7.80, which lets you travel all day on any of the 12 Baybus bus routes in the Tauranga and Mount Maunganui area.
The most popular bus routes for most budget travellers are routes 1 and 2, which run between Tauranga and Mount Maunganui. If you're staying at Apple Tree Backpackers or Just the Duck's Nuts, then buses 60 and 62 are a handy way to get into the centre of Tauranga.