Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island, is the fifth largest city in New Zealand, with a population of about 120 000.
Tauranga was a centre of New Zealand’s land wars in the mid-1800s, and the site of the Battle of Gate Pa. This history can be explored at The Elms, a mission house of the 1840s, which is now a museum.
Tauranga is also a good base for exploring the islands of the Bay of Plenty. These includes White Island, which is an active volcano. You can dive the waters around the island, a fascinating geothermal marine environment. Or you could try a tour of Matakana Island, and ride a Clydesdale-drawn wagon across the tidal flats.
Back on the mainland, Mount Tutu Eco Sanctuary offers prolific birdlife, and the chance to see glow-worms.
Waimarino Adventure Park offers climbing, but focuses on adventure water activities, with facilities for swimming, diving and kayaking.