New Zealand’s North Island is absolutely lush with coastal vibes, vibrant cities, and beautiful countryside. You’ll have no problem finding your paradise, and Tauranga is no exception. Situated in the sunny Bay of Plenty region, this easygoing lifestyle is about as Kiwi as it gets.

I am 100% biased when I say that Tauranga is the best city in New Zealand… why? Because it’s the place I am lucky enough to call home! It’s a city built for adventure lovers – surrounded by mountains and ocean. 

Whether you’re into hiking, sailing, surfing or just chillin’ on the beach – you’ll want to add this spot to your hit list! 

There is a wide range of places to stay in Tauranga, whether you’re vacationing with your littles or backpacking through the country. And like most places, where you decide to stay in Tauranga can easily influence the experience you’ll have.

Luckily, I’ve got everything from budget-friendly, epic surf hostels to high-end hotels. So buckle up, and let’s jump into my guide of where to stay in Tauranga.

dani and friend up mount maunganui, new zealand
Let me take you on a journey through my fav place in the world.
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

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Where is the Best Place to Stay in Tauranga?

Tauranga is not one to miss on your New Zealand bucket list. But finding the perfect spot to perch up in during your visit is no easy mission to be tasked with. 

Whether you’re looking for a hint of luxury or a good ol’ hostel in Tauranga to save your pennies and meet other travellers – I’ve got you covered. 

So, let’s get into the real meaty stuff and find where will be best for you. 

Tasman Holiday Parks

This holiday park is one of my favourite places to stay in Tauranga. It literally has everything you could need for a beach vacation.

The resort is located right on the beach, so you can spend your days sunbathing and swimming.

Each unit has its own patio with epic views of the garden or sea, and there’s also a pool for those days you don’t feel like getting all sandy.

Lush Downtown Studio

Mount Maunganui is a great place to stay in New Zealand, and this downtown studio takes the cake for me. At a decent price, you can get your own private oasis in the heart of all the action.

The studio is modern and stylish, with a fully equipped kitchenette and private bathroom.

Located just steps away from restaurants, bars, and shops, you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips. And the outdoor patio is the perfect spot to sit back and soak up the morning sun.

Wanderlust NZ

Backpackers rejoice at this epic hostel that is seriously just a few steps away from the beach!

The dorm rooms are clean and comfortable, with shared bathrooms and a communal kitchen for budget-friendly meals.

The atmosphere at Wanderlust NZ is always buzzing with excitement and adventure, making it the perfect spot to meet new people and socialize. Bars, cafes, and the bus stop are all just a minute’s walk away, making this your go-to spot for an amazing budget beach vacation.

Tauranga Neighborhood Guide – Best Places to Stay in Tauranga

FIRST TIME IN TAURANGA
Papamoa
FIRST TIME IN TAURANGA

Papamoa

This neighborhood has one of the most popular beaches in Tauranga, with its long stretch of white sand and crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and surfing.

ON A BUDGET
tauranga bay
ON A BUDGET

Tauranga City

Tauranga City is the perfect place for some budget-friendly luxury. With a lively city center filled with loads of different shops, restaurants, and street art, as well as beautiful parks and beaches.

FOR FAMILIES
Welcome-Bay
FOR FAMILIES

Welcome Bay

Welcome Bay is a little suburb located just outside of Tauranga city center, making it the perfect spot for families looking to escape the busy life of the city.

FOR SURFING
Mount-Maunganui
FOR SURFING

Mount Maunganui

The iconic Mount Maunganui is a must-visit area, renowned for its breathtaking beaches and surf-friendly waves. The laid-back atmosphere is perfect for those looking to unwind.

Tauranga is the biggest city in the Bay of Plenty region and is super accessible from all around New Zealand. It’s a hub for business and commerce and a pretty rad spot to spend some time if you ask me.

And while it may technically be the “biggest city” in the region, it’s more like a very large town. You’ll find everything you need here without a major metropolis’s overwhelming hustle and bustle feel.

Pretty much everywhere in Tauranga is close to the beach, so we can tick that off the list. But if you’re looking for a specific vibe or atmosphere, here are my top picks for where to stay in Tauranga.

Mount Maunganui is definitely worth visiting on your trip to New Zealand. This beachside suburb is just a 10-minute drive from the city centre and has everything you need for a laid-back beach vacation. Mount Maunganui is famous for its iconic mountain, white sandy beaches, great surf breaks, and vibrant cafe and restaurant scene.

view from the top of Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, New zealand
Get your booty up Mount Maunganui, it’s worth it.
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

But if you’re craving those city vibes, the Tauranga CBD is the place to be. Here, you’ll find a mix of modern and historic architecture and various shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s also home to the popular Strand waterfront area, where you can take a stroll and enjoy the views of the harbour.

For first-timers, it doesn’t get much better than staying in Papamoa. This coastal suburb is just a short drive from both Mount Maunganui and Tauranga CBD, making it a great base for exploring the region.

If you’re bringing the whole fam along, finding a perfect mix of fun and relaxation is key! That’s where Welcome Bay comes in, a serene and family-friendly spot ideal for some R&R.

Tauranga’s Four Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

I know you’re begging for more after that brief overview of Tauranga’s top neighbourhoods, so I’m about to deliver a more in-depth look at the four best areas to stay in while exploring this beautiful coastal city.

#1 Papamoa – Best Place to Stay in Tauranga for your First Time

If you’re a first-timer in Tauranga, congratulations! You’re about to become just as addicted as I am to this charming city. And the best place for you to get a taste of everything Tauranga offers is Papamoa.

papamoa beach in new zealand at sunset, looking toward mount maunganui, Tauranga, New Zealand
Pretty Papamoa.
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

This neighbourhood has one of the most popular beaches in Tauranga, with its long stretch of white sand and crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and surfing. There is seriously so much beach here—Like 125 km of coastline. Beach babes – welcome to heaven.

The thing I love is that it’s located just a short drive from Tauranga City, so you can easily explore the city’s attractions while still having that beach retreat vibe.

You’ll find a mix of affordable accommodations, such as beachside motels and holiday homes, as well as some luxury options for those who want to splurge.

Papamoa Beach Hugoway | Best Studio in Papamoa

If heading out the door and being at the beach in minutes is your idea of a perfect vacation, then this property is the one for you.

The studio apartment is perfect for a solo traveller in New Zealand or a couple who doesn’t need much space but still wants to be in the heart of all the action.

And if you want a local perspective, the host is more than happy to give you all the best recs for food, beach spots, and activities.

Pacific Park Christian Holiday Camp | Best Cabins in Papamoa

This Holiday Camp is one of the best places to stay in Tauranga if you’re travelling with kids or love to always be busy.

The camp offers so many different activities to keep everyone entertained, from surfing to mini golf.

And say goodbye to rounding up the kids to head out to dinner – the camp has some amazing kitchen and BBQ facilities, making it easy to cook on site.

Tasman Holiday Parks | Best Beachfront Resort in Papamoa

This beachfront resort is everything you need for a luxe vacation in Papamoa at a low cost. With spacious cabins and a stunning beachfront location, you’ll never want to leave.

You can spend the day at the pool or hop to the beach for sun and surf.

If you want to explore, the area offers plenty of outdoor activities like hiking and biking trails and shops and restaurants to check out.

Things to See and Do in Papamoa

dani skydiving
Jump out of a plane for the best views in town.
Photo: @danielle_wyatt
  1. Try to catch some waves with the highly-rated surf schools.
  2. Enjoy a sunrise hike at Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park, with IG-worthy ocean views.
  3. Spend a day exploring Papamoa Beach, filled with dunes, caves, and hidden coves.
  4. Spike your adrenaline by going on a tandem skydive adventure over Tauranga.
  5. Don’t miss the vibrant Papamoa Night Market called Dinner in Domain, where local artisans and tasty culinary delights create a feast for the senses.
  6. Relax and rejuvenate at one of the many-day spas in Papamoa.
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#2 Tauranga City – Best Place to Stay in Tauranga on a Budget

Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on comfort and style. And Tauranga City is the perfect place for some budget-friendly luxury.

remote working at the park with a laptop, portable wifi and hot tea in a thermos

Not a bad spot to park up for some morning admin.
Photo: @monteiro.online

With a lively city centre filled with loads of different shops, restaurants, and street art, as well as beautiful parks and beaches, there’s something for everyone here.

It’s the perfect place to meet some travel buddies, try delicious food, and explore the stunning natural landscapes without breaking the bank. There are plenty of affordable accommodation options, ranging from cosy hostels to budget-friendly hotels.

Hello! Accommodation | Best Budget Hotel in Tauranga City

Hello! Accommodation is right in the dead centre of Tauranga City, making it a fantastic base for exploring the city and surrounding areas.

The hostel has a unique mix of private rooms and dorms, catering to all types of travellers.

With a focus on sustainable practices and supporting local businesses, Hello! Accommodation is not just a place to stay but an experience in itself.

Delightful on Devonport | Best Guest House in Tauranga City

This cosy guesthouse will bring on all the nostalgia for your summer vacations with your family.

The charming, vintage decor and warm atmosphere will make you feel right at home.

It’s close to town, making walking to all the main attractions a breeze. And for those extra cosy nights, the fireplace is an absolute dream.

Wanderlust NZ | Best Hostel in Tauranga City

This newly opened waterfront hostel is the perfect option for solo travellers or backpackers.

Located right across the street from the beach and just a short walk from the city centre, it offers both convenience and stunning views.

The hostel has a fun and lively atmosphere, with plenty of communal areas for socializing and meeting other travellers. Plus, its budget-friendly prices make it an ideal choice for those looking to save money while still enjoying a comfortable stay in New Zealand.

Things to see and do in Tauranga City

a plate of french toast eggs bananas and strawberries at a cafe
The cafe culture in New Zealand is ELITE.
Photo: Roaming Ralph
  1. Visit The Elms Mission House, one of New Zealand’s oldest-standing buildings.
  2. Stroll through the Tauranga Art Gallery for some local art and culture.
  3. Explore the shops and cafes at The Strand waterfront area.
  4. Check out the jets and helicopters at Classic Flyers Aviation Museum.
  5. Take this glow worm kayak tour and enjoy the picturesque Lake McLaren at twilight.
  6. Eat some of the juiciest fresh seafood from the local fish market or one of the waterfront restaurants

#3 Welcome Bay – Best Place to Stay in Tauranga for Families

Welcome Bay is a little suburb located just outside of Tauranga city centre, making it the perfect spot for families looking to escape the busy life of the city. The neighbourhood has a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere, with plenty of green spaces and parks for children to play in.

The holiday homes and Airbnbs in Tauranga are much better suited for families who need more space, particularly given the area’s predominantly residential character.

Sheep on Papamoa Hills at sunset, Tauranga, New Zealand
Friendly locals await.
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

Up in the stars B&B | Best Bed and Breakfast in Welcome Bay

For those looking for a more intimate and personalized experience, Up in the Stars B&B is the perfect choice.

This charming bed and breakfast offers stunning views of Welcome Bay from its elevated location.

The hosts go above and beyond to make guests feel at home, providing delicious homemade breakfasts and New Zealand travel tips.

Large House with Spa and Views | Best Airbnb in Welcome Bay

This Airbnb in New Zealand is perfect for people who love their space. The large and spacious house gives everyone room to spread out and relax.

But the highlight of the house is definitely the outdoor spa. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a day of exploring.

The wrap-around porch will make any glass of wine or cup of coffee much more enjoyable with its stunning views of the bay.

Serene Cabin Retreat with Hot Tub | Best Cabin in Welcome Bay

Escape to nature in this serene cabin retreat. The cosy and charming cabin is surrounded by lush forest, giving you the feeling of being completely secluded.

But you’re still just minutes away from Rangataua Bay if you want to have some water fun or enjoy a hike in New Zealand.

The views from the hot tub will blow your mind and have you racing home every day to soak in the peace and quiet.

Things to see and do in Welcome Bay

Dani and friend sitting by Kaiate falls, tauranga, new zealand
All smiles post-rock jumping at Kaiate Falls.
Photo: @danielle_wyatt
  1. Take a family-friendly hike through the nearby Waitahanui Falls Track.
  2. Hike to the Kaiate Falls for breathtaking views of the waterfall and surrounding forest
  3. Spend a day at Rangataua Bay, where you can swim, kayak, or simply relax on the sandy beach.
  4. Visit the Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa for some geothermal fun. The kids will love exploring the different pools and learning about the history of the area.
  5. Splash around at Waimarino Water & Adventure Park
  6. Walk amongst the clouds at Redwoods Treewalk

#4 Mount Maunganui – Best Places to Stay in Tauranga for Surfing

The iconic Mount Maunganui is a must-visit area, renowned for its breathtaking beaches and surf-friendly waves. The laid-back atmosphere is perfect for those looking to slow down their travels and unwind.

view of mount maunganui, tauranga from above, new zealand
Rollin’ waves, baby!
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

Mount Maunganui offers a mix of trendy cafes, boutique shops, and beachfront accommodations that cater to all budgets. Whether waking up to a seaside sunrise or taking an evening stroll around the base of the Mount, the area’s natural beauty is seriously mind-blowing.

If Mount Maunganui isn’t on your list of where to stay in Tauranga, it should be. The vibe here is contagious and will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Downtown Mount Maunganui | Best studio in Mount Maunganui

If you like your space to be an absolute vibe, then this downtown studio in Mount Maunganui is the perfect spot for you.

The studio offers a private deck with a nice garden and provides easy access to all the best restaurants, shops, and beaches.

And it’s super cute with bright linens, giving you all the beachy keen vibes you want on vacation.

Sunbrae Beach Sanctuary | Best homestay in Mount Maunganui

Retreating after a long day at the beach has never felt better than at Sunbrae Beach Sanctuary. This homestay has everything you need for an easygoing beach vacation.

The one-bedroom is the downstairs area of the host’s home. You’ll have your own entrance for complete privacy, and the seashell wallpaper is the perfect touch.

It has a cozy king-sized bed, ensuite bathroom, and an outdoor shower—perfect for washing off sandy toes after the beach.

Seagulls Guesthouse | Best guesthouse in Mount Maunganui

Seagulls Guesthouse is the go-to spot for surfers who want to be close to the beach.

The guesthouse has a great atmosphere for travellers, and it has a lot of common spaces to mix and mingle.

All the rooms are private, making it great for couples or solo travellers looking for a budget-friendly option without the dorms (Praise the lord!!)

What to do in Mount Maunganui:

friends with surf boards relaxing at east coast beach in New Zealand
Surf. Relax. Repeat.
Photo: @danielle_wyatt
  1. Take a journey to Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park and indulge in the geothermal mud and sulfur waters.
  2. Catch as many waves as you want along the coast, or take a surfing lesson.
  3. Skydive over Maunganui and the beautiful Bay of Plenty.
  4. Hike to the summit of Mount Maunganui for breathtaking views of North Island.
  5. Check out the local farmers market for fresh produce, baked goods, and artisanal crafts.
  6. Visit nearby Tauranga for shopping, dining, and cultural experiences.
  7. Take a harbor sightseeing cruise and explore the local wildlife in the surrounding waters and shoreline.
  8. Sample some famous New Zealand Oysters at the gourmet night market
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FAQs About Where to Stay in Tauranga

Curious about Tauranga? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions. If you have any of your own, feel free to drop it in the comments below!

What To Pack For Tauranga

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Your Tauranga Travel Insurance

When backpacking, you never know what can happen. I’ve had several unfortunate accidents where travel insurance would have saved me so much anxiety and trouble.

Take it from me, make your New Zealand trip anxiety-free and get solid travel insurance.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Tauranga

Tauranga is your gem for an extraordinary Kiwi adventure! And I hope I’ve gotten you all the more excited to visit the Bay of Plenty.

There is truly no wrong or bad place to stay in Tauranga. But if it’s your first time, I highly recommend staying in Papaoma Beach or Mount Maunganui for the ultimate holiday experience.

I’ve never once regretted having the beach right outside my back door. I mean—hello, morning swims and walks on the beach!

No matter where you choose to stay, I know you’ll have a stellar time in Tauranga.

Papamoa beach at sunset, New Zealand
Tauranga awaits <3
Photo: @danielle_wyatt
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