WHITIANGA – TAURANGA (via Whangamata)
Travel distance is approximately 168kms (105 miles).
Allow at least 2.25 hours drive time (not including stops).
A travel journey designed to showcase the stunning beaches and coastal surrounds of this area of New Zealand’s North Island. A unique combination of cafes, kayaks, hot water beaches, optional ferry crossings and other outdoor activities awaits you on this part of your day’s journey, before enjoying an evening stop-over in vibrant Tauranga.
After enjoying an evening in the popular tourist resort area of Whitianga, it is time to pack your rental vehicle up and enjoy another day of fabulous scenery, relaxing driving conditions and plenty of opportunities to stop and see, taste or experience along the way. If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet, before leaving Whitianga, catch the ferry to the south side of the harbour for a visit to Cooks Beach.
Some notable stops along the route to Tauranga include:
HOT WATER BEACH
The amazing Hot Water Beach hot springs can only be accessed at low tide, however the locals suggest the best times to dig your personal hot spa is 2 hours either side of low tide. Dig your own hot pool and then soak and relax your body in the thermal water. This is also a popular beach for surfing.
This picture perfect picnic spot is fringed with beautiful Pohutukawa trees and is an ideal beach for swimming or trying your hand at shore fishing. A visit to the southern end of the beach will lead you to the Te Pare historic reserve, which is the site of an ancient Maori pa.
Considered one of the ‘must see’ areas in the Coromandel Peninsula, Cathedral Cove is accessible by boat or foot, with the walking track beginning at the northern end of Hahei beach.
Thanks to the spectacular white sandy beaches, this area is now recognised as one of the most popular beach resorts in New Zealand during the balmy summer season. A great selection of cafes makes this an enjoyable place to have some lunch, take a short bush walk or for the more energetic, hire a bike or kayak!
Situated on the Pacific Coast Highway, Wihi is renowned as New Zealand’s ‘heart of gold’ due to its extensive gold mining history. Enjoy some time in this lovely beach side town, walk to the edge of Waihi’s huge open pit gold mine, stroll across viewing platforms, take a gold mine tour, or pack a snack and enjoy some of Waihi’s awesome walkways.
A short drive detour will take you to Waihi Beach, and is worth the journey to take a walk along the golden sandy beach. Considered one of the safest surf and swimming beaches in New Zealand, the beach has surf patrol during the peak summer season, which makes this a fun, safe place to swim in the surf.
As the major city in the Bay of Plenty region, the city is located at entrance to one New Zealand’s largest natural harbours. Boasting two large marinas, you can easily find a fishing charter, take a harbour cruise or go scuba diving.
Downtown Tauranga take a visit to The Strand waterfront area for a selection of great cafes, restaurants and a vibrant night life. There are also plenty of accommodation options for your over night stay, however we do recommend you book in advance during the busy Christmas and summer holiday season.
Highly recommended Tauranga tourist attractions include…
Mount Maunganui – is the New Years Eve party capital of New Zealand! However, during other times it is just considered one of the top beaches and resort areas of New Zealand. Referred to as ‘The Mount’, the main swimming beach is located at the base of majestic Mount Maunganui. You can take a walk to the peak of Mount Maunganui and enjoy stunning coastal views. The main beach area also boasts a selection of superb cafes and nearby boutique shopping.
McLaren Falls Park – Enjoy a whopping 170 hectares of lakeland park boasting a beautiful waterfall that marks the starting point for kayaking and white-water rafting on the Wairoa River. Enjoy year-round fishing or enjoy one of the many native bush-walking tracks, feed the ducks and swans or enjoy some bird watching. Make a day of your visit here and pack some goodies to cook on the coin operated BBQ.
Whale & Dolphin Watching – Marine encounters are in abundance with many eco tourism operators keen to offer you the unique experience of swimming with dolphins or simply viewing them and whales in their natural habitat.
Longridge Fun Park – Located in Te Puke, this award winning visitor activity is loads of fun for those seeking outdoor action. Take a jet boat trip down the awesome Kaituna River before take a U-Drive 4WD adventure along a customised, off-road course. Softer adventure options include guided farm tours and Kiwifruit tours.
Tauranga is a popular holiday destination and combines the conveniences of a city with the attractions and activities of the coast. This is where you can go shopping in the morning, lunch in an up-market café, enjoy a leisurely walk on a white sandy beach, before swimming with dolphins… all in one day!
New Zealand Itineraries: North Island Suggested Itineraries
Our modern self-drive travel Itineraries have routes specifically for the North Island as well as the South Island, ranging from 5 to 11 days, plus there are some travel routes that take in both the North and South Island’s. Our range of travel itineraries include information regarding travel distances and time to ensure that you can make the best of your time in New Zealand, no longer how short your visit!
- 5 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
- 6 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Coromandel, Coromandel – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua and Rotorua – Auckland
- 6 Day Itinerary (route 2): Auckland – Dargaville, Dargaville – Kaitaia, Kaitaia – Paihia, Paihia – Whangarei and Whangarei – Auckland
- 7 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Napier and Napier – Wellington
- 8 Day Itinerary: Wellington, Wellington – Masterton, Masterton – Wellington, Wellington – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim and Blenheim – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Coromandel, Coromandel – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Gisborne, Gisborne – Napier, Napier – Taupo, Taupo – Rotorua, Rotorua – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 2): Auckland – Whangarei, Whangarei – Paihia, Paihia – Hokianga, Hokianga – Auckland, Auckland – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
- 11 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua, Rotorua – Gisborne, Gisborne – Napier, Napier Taupo Napier, Napier – Wellington, Wellington – New Plymouth, New Plymouth – Waitomo and Waitomo Caves – Auckland