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10 Free and Cheap Things to do in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui


Free activities in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui.

The Bay of Plenty hub is bustling with things to do, what’s more, there are heaps of free things to do in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui! (As well as cheap things to do too). Whether you’re looking for hikes, art galleries, food to try,  and social events to attend, it’s all happening here in Tauranga.

Whether you are in the city to find work or and just passing through, there are a number of free things to do in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui so that you don’t break the backpacker budget. Stay in one of the 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui to keep accommodation costs low and fill up your time with some of these free and cheap activities in Tauranga.

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1. Hike up Mt Maunganui

Don’t waste any time to soak in those views from the summit of Mt Maunganui, aka, Mauao or “The Mount”. There are a number of walking tracks up and around The Mount, but the 30-minute climb to the summit rewards you with panoramic views of beaches, Tauranga city and the Pacific Ocean.

Location: Follow the boardwalks on Marine Parade, Mt Maunganui until you are faced with a huge mountain with walking tracks. (You can’t miss it!)

2. Take a trip to Mclaren Falls Park

Just a 20-minute drive out of Tauranga is McLaren Falls Park. You can fill up a whole day here walking through the different sections of native and exotic trees, around the super reflective Lake McLaren, and marvel at the McLaren Falls at the entrence of the park. We recommend taking the 10-minute waterfall track to the unnamed waterfall pictured below! For more epic waterfalls, see 12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand.

Location: McLaren Falls Park, off State Highway 29

3. Check out the blowholes on Leisure ISland

Islands don’t come more accessible than Leisure Island (Moturiki). Simply walk across a footbridge connecting the island to Mt Maunganui’s main beach and take a 10-minute stroll on a track leading to a blowhole.

Location: Mt Maunganui Beach, Marine Parade, Mt Maunganui

4. Culture yourself at the Tauranga Art Gallery

The free-entry Tauranga Art Gallery is every-changing with exhibitions and artwork to inspire! Go in and check out what displays they have on offer this month!

Location: Corner of Wharf and Willows Street, Tauranga

5. Relax at the Salt water hot pools

For those chilly days, relax at the Mount Hot Pools at the base of Mt Maunganui. Prices are very reasonable at NZ$14 for general admission. Alternatively, many accommodation providers in town can offer deals on the hot pools if you want to save a few more dollars.

Location: Adams Avenue, Mount Maunganui
Mount Hot Pools

6. Hit one of the markets

There’s always something going on in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui and markets are usually involved. Check out the Little Big Markets in Coronation Park, Mt Maunganui, Saturdays 9am-2pm, for food, crafts, design and art. Then get up again on Sunday Morning for the Farmers Market in the Phoenix Car Park, Mt Maunganui, 9am-1pm. The Tauranga Farmers Market takes place on 5th Avenue, 8am-12pm.

Location: Tauranga and Mt Maunganui

7. Go on a street art crawl

There are some pretty impressive murals spray-painted onto the walls of Tauranga. Finding them is not only a great way to explore the city centre, but it provides you with some pretty neat photo-ops! Check out the car parks and parking buildings around Spring Street, the huge construction worker mural down the Grey Street service lane, and a few more artwork on 53 The Strand, 176 Cameron Road and 24 Drive Crescent.

Location: Tauranga City Centre

8. Go indoor rock climbing

Test your climbing skills at Rocktopia! The indoor climbing venue is not only an affordable activity, but it’s a great thing to do on a rainy day. With an array of easy clip n’ climb walls to the challenging “rock on” walls, all abilities can kill some time here!

Location: Triton Avenue, Mt Maunganui

9. Go surfing at Mt Maunganui!

When the swell is up, hit Mt Maunganui Beach for some wave-riding fun. There are heaps of surf shops around Mt Maunganui that often have deals of surf hire. (Obviously, the less time you hire a board for, the cheaper it is). Alternatively, some hostels in town offer free board hire for their guests, such as Pacific Coast Lodge so take advantage!

Location: Mt Maunganui Beach

10. Go on a foodie crawl around Tauranga and Mt Maunganui

Ice creams, coffee, fish and chips… The seaside city has many specialties that you have to try while mooching around. Mt Maunganui locals would boast that Copenhagen Cone, Adams Avenue, Mt Maunganui does the best ice cream in the bay, while others would say you can’t go wrong with a Kiwi classic fish and chips from Bobbys Fresh Fish Market on Drive Crescent, Tauranga. See Cheap Eats in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui for inspiration.

Location: All over Tauranga and Mt Maunganui!

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