Tauranga – big city perks with small town heart

Tauranga is such an entirely liveable city.  Beautiful weather, shops if you feel so inclined (why would you with so much to explore but it’s nice to know they are there), it’s flat, great places to eat, easy parking and amazing places to explore.

With 120,000 people, Tauranga is New Zealand’s 6th biggest city.  So it’s not exactly tiny, but it’s not the behemoth that Auckland is either and it manages to capture all the things a big city needs without loosing the seaside, small town vibe.

We spent a long weekend down in Tauranga with the kids for my birthday and it was sensational.  What made it so good?  Well here’s my list of why Tauranga delivers on everything you’d expect from a big city with a lot of small town heart….

Catch a show

I love Wicked.  It’s my favourite show ever.  Last time it played in Auckland I went twice.  Which is expensive, but worth every cent in my book.  So when I saw Wicked was playing in Tauranga I was so excited.  But then my rational self started to ask what if it wasn’t as good out of the main centres.  I’d never been to a show outside of Wellington or Christchurch.

I’m going to admit right now that I’m pretty embarrassed I was so snobby.  Wicked was absolutely amazing in Tauranga.  Locals Bailee Twomey and Tiffany Wilkinson were outright sensational and I’m pretty much going to anything they are in from here on in. 

Grab a meal

There are so many amazing options in Tauranga.

We ate out quite a bit because well it was my birthday weekend and that seemed to be a good enough excuse for everyone.

We took the kids to Momo Tekanyaki where they cook the food in front of you.  The yum yum prawns are the best!

We had so many of you from Pyes Pa buy our Getting Lost Game that we decided to check it out.  So we went and had dinner at Good Local.  Which is exactly as it sounds – a good local!  They even had iPads for kids.  Which I’m still trying to figure out is a good thing or bad thing?

And further out in Papamoa we tried out the Papamoa Beach Tavern (great for good honest pub grub).

Papamoa Tavern

Or Bluebiyou for a fancy birthday dinner (and now I just can’t get the song out of my head!).

Go swimming

Our kids always seem to be in the water.  No matter what time of the year it is and Tauranga in September was no exception.  

We went to the Mount Hot Pools – a salt water hot pool at the base of Mount Maunganui.

Mount hot pools

We went to McLaren Falls and the kids jumped straight in after James.

McLaren Falls

We ran through water fountains at the downtown playground and then jumped in off the stairs into the harbour.

Tauranga

And we paddled along the sandy shores at Papamoa Beach.

Relax

I find it hard to relax.  I’m always on the go.  But in Tauranga I slowed down.  I stopped trying to pack everything in to a day.  I jumped on the bouncy pillow with the kids (that’s fun after having two children let me tell you!), walked on the beach with my camera and I actually slept in.

Head out of town

The best spots are always worth a bit more of a drive.  We stayed at Papamoa Beach Resort – about 20 minutes out of Tauranga centre and well worth it for a relaxed beachfront spot.

Papamoa Beach Resort

Tauranga – you’ve sold us and by the end of 3 days you had us searching (like I’m sure many have before us) for property prices in Tauranga!

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