I'm a well-travelled person, to say the least. I've been to New Zealand numerous times and actually spent a few months there in 2003. However, until my recent cruise with Azamara, I had never heard of Tauranga.
Tauranga is actually the fourth most populous "city" (though it's hardly a city) in New Zealand, as many people have fled Auckland because of sky-high real estate prices. I know the other reason why Kiwis are relocating to Tauranga, though: it is absolutely gorgeous and very livable. Those are also the reasons it should absolutely be on your travel bucket list.
New Zealand is famous for its amazing natural scenery and stunning beauty. Most people including myself equate that with mountains, rolling hills, alpine lakes and sparkling rivers - certainly not with amazing beaches, like nearby Australia. Alas, Tauranga proved me wrong!
Tauranga is not a typical city. It’s essentially a strangely shaped isthmus centered around the attractive Mount Meurengui. The city center, so to speak, is not very big of and does not offer much to tourists as it's separated from the main town and beaches.
But walking along the coastline from one side of the isthmus to the other on either side of Mount Muerengui showcases scenery from dramatic backdrops to beautiful beaches. Exploring looks different depending where you’re standing and which direction you’re looking.
The main beach actually had an Ironman competition taking place the day I was there, which was fun to watch. Locals were competing in watersports like kayaking, surfing, paddling and swimming.
The next beach up, which is separated by a thin little islet, is even more breathtaking with perfect crystal blue water and little rock atolls in the distance to really enhance the view. These are the types of beaches most people daydream about all winter long!
Tauranga is also the gateway to other attractions on the North Island, such as Hobbiton, Rotorua, Lake Taupo and the Waitomo Caves.
It’ not often I get surprised on my travels anymore and it’s even rarer that I have never heard of a place. I also don’t pour on the praise unless I really like a place and I really liked Tauranga - you will too. Azamara has four itineraries calling on Tauranga in 2017 and 2018.
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