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Tauranga Travel Information

Tauranga, the largest growing city in New Zealand, is located at the head of a large crescent shaped harbour, about fifteen miles long, which extends along the western Bay of Plenty, with a low­-lying island called Matakana making it land-locked except for entrances at either end.

The harbour is shallow but the scour of the tides maintains deep channels in each entrance.

J. C. Bidwill, botanist, wrote of Mount Maunganui in 1839 that it was "a curious hill, or immense rock of basaltic lava mixed in some places with pumice ... formerly a very strong 'Pa' (Pah), a native fort or village" and that it was a "splen­did object; were it necessary it might be made a second Gibraltar".

Although Mount Maunganui, the "large mountain" of the Maoris, is sacred to them, as to local his­torians and admirers of unspoilt symmetry.

Tauranga itself is Maori for "sheltered anchorage" or "resting place for canoes".

The western entrance is near Kati Kati and so takes its name, though it is also known as Bowentown Heads after a small settlement so named overlooking the entrance.

The other entrance is generally called the Tauranga Entrance since it gives a more direct access to the city.

Opposite this en­trance is Mount Maunganui, a seaside resort boasting one of New Zealand’s finest beaches, a long stretch of golden sand and awesome surfing.

Further out in the Bay is Mayor Island, on which a deep-sea fishing club has its base, while another offshore island, Te Karewa, is a sanctuary for the rare tuatara lizard.

Katikati is a county town in the Tauranga county.

The settlement was founded in 1873 by George Vesey Stewart, who brought immigrants from County Tyrone, Ireland.

They found land covered with bracken fern and manuka scrub, but from the first year's planting of potatoes and other crops were astonished and delighted at the bounti­ful harvest yielded by the virgin soil and a good season.

Tauranga has had a long, sometimes chequered, but always interesting history.

In the eighteenth century Captain Cook, cruising along the coast of the bay, gave it the name Bay of Plenty because he noticed several large settlements of Maoris from whom he readily obtained such provisions as they could offer, and water.

About the date of the first Maori settlement there is more speculation than knowledge, but of later history we have more certainty.

Some trade in flax was carried on with Europeans at least as early as 1830, and in 1833 a mission station was established to which came, a few years later, Archdeacon A. N. Brown; his house The Elms still stands, and contains many relics of early history.

But neither the Pax Britannica nor the Peace of the Gospel was to last; and in 1864 the government saw fit to send troops to Tauranga partly because it was on the route that would be taken by East Coast allies of the Maori King Movement coming to support their friends in the Waikato, and partly because the Bay of Plenty tribes were disaffected.

The troops settled in at a place still called The Camp, and built the Monmouth Redoubt, which still stands.

The local Maoris hastily organised defence posts, and their chief sent a message to the commander of the troops, General Cameron, telling him that the pa was finished and that an access road had been constructed for his convenience in attacking.

It should be mentioned here that, to the Maori, fighting was the noblest and highest form of physical ex­ercise, but General Cameron didn't see the point; he sent no reply.

The Maoris moved forward. Another challenge; again no reply.

Again the Maoris moved to a nearer posi­tion; the chief sent another message-in effect, "let battle commence" - and with it a document notable for its chival­rous outlook and promises (faithfully observed) to abstain from barbaric conduct and to show humanity to the wound­ed.

This was the chivalrous prelude to the bloody and indecisive battle of Gate Pa.

When peace was restored Tauranga quietly grew and, in 1874, with the opening of a road to Taupo via Rotorua, became a town of some importance though it languished after the opening of rail communication from Auckland to Rotorua.

From that period till recent times it shared with Whakatane, to the east, in the export of dairy-produce, citrus fruits, and other produce from the potentially rich lands of the Bay of Plenty, and became a place of peace and quiet and beauty to which elderly people retired to live each under his own vine and fig tree.

But the govern­ment decision to make Tauranga the outlet for the export for the produce of the great man-made forests of the Kainga­roa and the paper and pulp mills of Kawerau, completely upset the balance.

Tauranga is now a thriving and go ­ahead city.

Due to its rapid expansion in recent years, its climate and situation make it fashionable as a holiday resort and a desirable place for retired businessmen and farmers.

It is close to deep-sea fishing, serves a prosperous farming country and is accessible by road, sea, railway, and air.

With its stunning beaches, cute town, hot water pools, lovely orchards, great fishing facilities and interesting historic sites, Tauranga, only an hours drive from Rotorua, is an excellent side trip to the North islands premier tourist mecca.

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Tauranga Tourism Information


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