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Family friendly things to do in Tauranga

Family friendly things to do in Tauranga

With its beautiful harbour, lush parks, and fun attractions, Tauranga is a top spot for a campervan holiday. Nestled in the stunning Bay of Plenty, this coastal city has loads on offer for families. Whether you’ve got preschoolers or teens, it’s easy to plan a travel itinerary that ticks the boxes for everyone in the family. To help you do just that, we’ve put together this helpful guide to some of the best family activities in Tauranga.


What’s Tauranga known for?

As the largest city in the Bay of Plenty, and just a few hours drive from Auckland, Tauranga is a popular destination for a New Zealand road trip. 

A hub of activity where urban charm meets natural beauty, Tauranga is perhaps best known for its stunning harbour. Not only does it offer a picturesque backdrop but also a playground for a variety of water-based activities. 

The city's history is deeply intertwined with Māori culture, and this is reflected in its fascinating historical sites and cultural experiences. Tauranga also boasts a thriving arts scene, with galleries and street art showcasing local and national talent. For nature enthusiasts, Mount Maunganui, an extinct volcano, offers breathtaking views and a chance to connect with the great outdoors.

Foodies will love Tauranga's culinary scene, which features fresh, locally sourced produce and seafood. The city's cafes and restaurants offer a taste of the region's best flavours, making it a must-visit for anyone on a New Zealand road trip.

Whether it's adventure, culture, or cuisine, Tauranga provides a unique blend of experiences that make it a standout destination in New Zealand.


The best way to explore Tauranga

Family holidays should be all about making awesome memories, having a stress-free break from routine, and enjoying fun, new experiences. What better way to tick all those boxes – and more – than travelling by camper. 

Campervan travel is all about freedom and adventure. Take your time, stop as you need to, and enjoy unrivalled flexibility and spontaneity. It means you can make the most of the great things to do in Tauranga with your family.

Another great benefit of a campervan hire is the ability to pack all those extra bits and pieces you need when travelling with a family. Pile in the kids’ favourite toys, blankets and pillows, books, and snacks. And with your own kitchen and bathroom on board, you don’t have to worry about finding public restrooms or planning where to eat. It’s like travelling in a home on wheels. If the kids are tired or need some quiet time, their cosy bed is right there waiting. 

To help make your family motorhome holiday even easier, check out our tips for how to entertain kids in a camper. 

Image: Tourism New Zealand


Family-friendly things to do in Tauranga

Ready to start planning your awesome Tauranga travel itinerary? Here are a few of the awesome family activities Tauranga has waiting. 


1. Take an evening glow worm kayak tour

One of the most magical things to do in Tauranga is an evening glow worm kayak tour with Waimarino Kayak Tours. Park up your campervan and take an enchanting adventure on the calm waters of Lake McLaren, just a short drive from the city centre. As the evening settles in, you'll find yourself paddling gently through a canyon transformed into a starry wonderland, thanks to the thousands of glow worms adorning the walls.

This tour is a fantastic way for families to experience the natural beauty of Tauranga in a unique and memorable way. The tranquillity of the lake at night, combined with the mesmerising light of the glow worms, creates an almost ethereal atmosphere. It's an activity that appeals to all ages, making it a perfect addition to your list of must-do family activities in Tauranga.


2. Swim with dolphins

If you’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins, Tauranga is the place to do it. Head out into the open waters of Tauranga Harbour with Dolphin Seafari for the ultimate bucket list experience. The Bay of Plenty is a haven for marine life, which means you’ve also got a good chance of spotting New Zealand fur seals, humpback and pilot whales, little blue penguins, orcas, and more. 

Dolphin Seafaris' commitment to safety and respect for wildlife ensures that your encounter is not only memorable but also responsible. Whether you're an avid marine enthusiast or looking for a unique family activity in Tauranga, swimming with dolphins is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.


3. Explore McLaren Falls Park

If you're keen to spend a day in nature, McLaren Falls Park is a must-visit. This picturesque park, just a short drive from the city, offers a peaceful retreat into nature, perfect for families travelling in a campervan.

Spanning over 190 hectares, McLaren Falls Park is known for its stunning waterfall and numerous walking tracks that cater to all fitness levels. The park's well-maintained trails lead you through lush native bush, offering glimpses of local wildlife and beautiful flora. And if you’re keen on a spot of fishing, the lake is a great place to try your luck. For families, the open spaces and playgrounds provide the perfect setting for kids to play and explore safely.

As an added bonus, you can also park up your motorhome at the McLaren Falls campsite and enjoy a relaxing stay. Just be sure to book and pay online in advance.


4. Swim at Mount Maunganui Beach

A visit to Tauranga wouldn't be complete without a day spent at the iconic Mount Maunganui. Easily accessible from the city, especially when you're travelling in a campervan, this popular destination has a fantastic holiday vibe. Once you arrive, you'll be greeted by the sun-drenched, golden shores of Mount Maunganui Beach. Crowned the Best Beach in New Zealand by TripAdvisor, this beach is a slice of paradise, and the perfect setting for a relaxing family day by the sea. 

The gentle waves make it a safe and enjoyable spot for swimming, and the expansive beach means there's plenty of space for everyone. Don’t forget to charge your camera; the beach's beauty and vibrant atmosphere make it a great place for family photos, creating lasting memories of your New Zealand road trip. Whether you're looking to build sandcastles with the kids, take a refreshing swim, or just soak up the sun, this is the place to do it.


5. Have a blast at Waimarino Water Park

Treat the kids to a day filled with excitement and fun at Waimarino Water Park. Located on the banks of the Wairoa River, just a 10-minute drive from Tauranga city, this adventure park is a must-do attraction in Tauranga for families keen on adventure. Waimarino Water Park offers a range of activities that cater to all ages, from kayaking and paddleboarding to more thrilling attractions like climbing walls and New Zealand’s only kayak slide. 

A highlight for many is 'The Blob', a giant inflatable pillow that launches you into the air and into the water for an exhilarating experience. Families can bring along their picnic or barbecue supplies and make a day of it, enjoying the beautiful surroundings and the park's facilities.


6. Get competitive at Tauranga Mini Golf Fun Park

For a dose of friendly competition or just a fun activity in Tauranga, head over to Tauranga Mini Golf Fun Park. The courses are designed to be fun yet challenging, which means both kids and adults have a great time. The park also has ride-on electric Jeeps for kids which are suitable for even the youngest drivers. With picnic tables available, you can bring along lunch or cool off with an ice cream or cold drink. 

7. Visit Hairy Maclary and Friends

A delightful stop for families in Tauranga is the Hairy Maclary & Friends sculptures, located on the waterfront in Downtown Tauranga. This enchanting storybook scene brings to life the beloved characters from Dame Lynley Dodd's famous children's book series. 

The sculptures are situated in a prime spot along The Strand. You'll be greeted by the larger-than-life bronze sculptures of Hairy Maclary, Scarface Claw, Slinky Malinki, and their friends. These sculptures, crafted by Brigitte Wuest of Wētā Works in Wellington, capture the charm and whimsy of the storybook characters in stunning detail. 


8. Battle it out at Bay Karts

For families looking for an adrenaline rush and a bit of friendly competition, Bay Karts in Mount Maunganui is the perfect destination. Located at 8 Titoki Place, this go-kart track offers an exhilarating experience for all ages, making it a thrilling addition to your New Zealand road trip.

At Bay Karts, you can feel the excitement as you race around their outdoor track, complete with cambered corners and a challenging hairpin. There’s a variety of karts to suit every age and experience level. Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned racer, the track provides a safe yet thrilling environment for all drivers.


9. Make new friends at Marshall’s Animal Park

Nestled within the scenic McLaren Falls Park, Marshall's Animal Park is a great spot for a family day out. The park is a short drive from the city and easily accessible for those travelling by campervan. 

This 35-acre attraction is home to a variety of friendly animals, making it a must-visit for families looking to connect with nature. Meet an incredible variety of species, from domestic farmyard animals to exotic species like emus, giant African ostriches, and Texas longhorns. Children will love the opportunity to feed and play with animals such as sheep, deer, goats, pigs, and miniature horses.

The park's well-planned walkways allow for close-up encounters with the animals, ensuring a personal and engaging experience. For added fun, the park includes flying foxes and a playground, perfect for keeping the little ones entertained.


10. Make a splash at Baywave

For a fun-filled day, rain or shine, head to Baywave, one of Tauranga's top indoor aquatic facilities. Baywave features the biggest wave pool in New Zealand and an epic hydroslide, drawing in visitors for an exhilarating experience. The complex also houses a 25-metre lap pool, a leisure pool with waves, children's pools, and spas. The new Aqua Play Station, with three water slides, water guns, a tipping water bucket, and numerous water fountains, promises hours of enjoyment. 

Image: Tourism New Zealand


Family friendly holiday parks in Tauranga

Now that you’ve got some ideas on some great things to do in Tauranga, let’s take a look at where you can park up your campervan in comfort. 


Omokoroa TOP 10 Holiday Park

A top choice for families travelling by campervan, Omokoroa TOP 10 Holiday Park offers a peaceful retreat with everything needed for a great holiday.

Located in the picturesque peninsula of Ōmokoroa, just a short drive from Tauranga, the holiday park is surrounded by natural beauty. It offers easy access to the beach, making it perfect for those who love the sea and sand. The park's location also means you're close to local Tauranga attractions and activities.


Welcome Bay Hot Pools & Campground

Family owned and operated, Welcome Bay Hot Pools & Campgrounds is the perfect spot to unwind. And the best way to do just that is a soak in a soothing hot pool. Guests staying at the campground have free access to the thermal mineral hot pools. These pools offer a healing and recuperative soak, ideal after a day of exploring. 

The campground's location, close to Papamoa and Mount Maunganui, means you're never far from some of the best beaches and shopping centres in the Bay of Plenty.


Tauranga Tourist Park

Looking for somewhere close to all the best Tauranga attractions? Just 4 km from the city centre, Tauranga Tourist Park is the perfect setup for families travelling by campervan. Enjoy the easy access to the city's attractions, dining, and shopping, while still enjoying the tranquillity of a park setting. 

The park offers well-maintained powered sites that provide all the necessary facilities for a comfortable stay. Guests can take advantage of clean and modern amenities, including kitchen and bathroom facilities, laundry services, and communal areas for relaxation and socialising.


Ready to explore Tauranga?

Ready to get started on your Tauranga adventure? Book your campervan online with Apollo today and start planning your ultimate family getaway. 

With a range of comfortable and well-equipped campervans, Apollo provides the perfect base for your New Zealand road trip. Don't miss the chance to experience the best of this beautiful region in the comfort and convenience of an Apollo campervan. Book now and get ready for the family holiday of a lifetime. 

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