Let’s face it, kids are expensive! But you don’t have to spend money to have a good time with your tribe in the Bay of Plenty. It’s in our nature to embrace our coastline and the wide open spaces that surround us. So get ready to have fun free-of-charge.

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Conquer the Mauao Summit

Tell your kids that they’re about to climb an extinct volcano and watch their eyes light up! Mauao is full of places to explore. You can follow the popular base track or climb 232-metres to the top but your kids will no doubt find the smaller ‘fairy’ paths to follow, the rock boulders to jump across, the clay cliffs to carve their name into or the shelly beach to search for treasure. You can also watch lambs play in their paddocks each spring or race to the top to help burn off some of their youthful energy.

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Pack a Picnic

Pilot Bay is a wonderful spot for a picnic – particularly on a warm summer’s evening when cruise ships regularly depart from the wharves at Mount Maunganui. Your kids will love hearing the ship’s horn bellow as it sails right past them. Memorial Park, Fergusson Park and Yatton Park are also popular picnic spots in Tauranga – most parks around the Bay also offer coin-operated BBQ facilities so you can cook up a yummy lunch or dinner and kick a ball around for hours.

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Visit McLaren Falls Park

McLaren Falls is an incredibly beautiful 190-hectare park estate that is set around the tranquil waters of Lake McLaren. It’s about a 15-minute drive out of Tauranga and offers some fantastic walking tracks, camping, fishing and picnic spots. Your kids will love the waterfall loop track which is covered in glow worms for some night time excitement! This track is about a 20-minute round trip on foot and has a lovely waterfall and streams running adjacent to it. Gates open for outgoing vehicles after closing time, so you don’t need to be in a hurry to leave: stay and enjoy the glow worms!

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Wheelie Fun

Grab your mountain bikes or bicycles and explore the awesome network of cycleways and urban trails around the Bay. Tauranga City Council has some great maps and routes on their website which you can follow. The TECT All Terrain Park has beautiful forest tracks for walking, cycling and mountain biking. If your kids love skateboarding, take them down to the skate ramp at Memorial Park or to one of the skate parks in Mount Maunganui, Pāpāmoa or Waihī Beach. Ōmokoroa has an awesome skate path which is ideal for scooters too.

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Waterfront Wonder

The Strand on Tauranga’s waterfront is a great place to spend a few hours with kids. A huge playground with steep slides and awesome rope swings is guaranteed to be a big hit. There’s a sandpit for young ones, splash fountains to run in and out of, tidal stairs and a dive-bombing platform where older kids can show off their skills. Tauranga’s ceremonial waka, the Te Awanui, is also on display at the northern end of The Strand, and everyone’s favourite storybook characters, Hairy Maclary and friends, are immortalised in bronze and waiting for your family to climb all over them.

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Art Entertainment

Tauranga’s Art Gallery hosts an impressive array of interactive art exhibitions which appeal to youngsters. Street art, light installations, virtual reality, sensory experiences and augmented reality are just some of the highlights in the past year alone. Art isn’t just for looking at – this gallery is dedicated to art that people can touch, feel, Instagram, play, listen to and smell. The large-scale street art murals that are scattered around Tauranga’s CBD are also fun to discover while out and about with your kids. Check out some of the art maps on our website for a street art scavenger hunt.

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Te Puna Quarry Park

The Te Puna Quarry Park was a disused quarry but is now a world-class park that offers plenty of secret trails through the bush and fun discoveries around every corner. Your kids will love exploring and climbing over the old quarry machinery, the wooden log train and down the spine of the scaly dragon. You’ll find a huge wooden xylophone and metal tubes dangling among the trees for making musical tunes, and the butterfly house will mesmerise kids for hours while you watch them hatch from their chrysalises.

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Hit the Beach

Our best natural asset is a playground for all ages – and our white sandy coastline stretches as far as the eye can see! There’s always a beach close by so take your bucket and spade down to the shoreline and start digging. Collect shells and driftwood together, and dig pools in the sand for your cherubs to splash in. Older kids love to swim, surf and boogie board so slap on the sunscreen and dive right in. Pāpāmoa and Ōhope beach are two family favourites because the beach is wide and flat, and the surf is generally calm.

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Go Fish

Learning to catch a fish is a right of passage for every Kiwi kid, and the Bay of Plenty has lots of awesome spots to cast your line. Moturiki Island, Salisbury Wharf, The Strand (near Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market) or Sulphur Point are all great places to fish in Tauranga, or if you’re in the Eastern Bay, the wharf at Ōhope is a fun place to try your luck.

Things to do in the Bay of Plenty

Walking Tracks

Your young explorers will love going on an adventure to see the blowhole on Moturiki Island, just off the beach at Mount Maunganui. It’s an easy 10-minute walk and there are some fun boulders to scramble over at the end to get the best view. Or you could walk the loop track at Kaiate Falls in Welcome Bay and see water tumbling down the ravine towards you. In Hot Springs Road, Katikati, you’ll find walking tracks that lead to native kauri trees or further north at Bowentown you can walk to Anzac Bay and paddle in the safe, shallow waters.

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Take the little ones out for a scavenger hunt at one of our local bush tracks. As you search for these treasures, take time to connect with the natural environment, listen to the sounds of birdsong, and feel the earth beneath your feet. Remember to respect the plants, animals, and cultural sites you encounter along the way. Take a look at our Scavenger Hunt and see what you can find!