Tauranga is smack in the centre of the Bay of Plenty, named in 1769 when Captain James Cook found the whole area really was the “Bay of Plenty”.
The harbour is perfect for boating as it has many anchorages, wharves and marinas as well as dedicated Ski Lanes and a Marine Reserve just inside the harbour entrance. The channels are well marked to standard international markings and provided you are in the channels you should not have any difficulty avoiding the many sand bars. There are two excellent marinas, the marina at Sulphur Point is a private society run marina. The other is the Tauranga Bridge Marina and is commercially operated and has an excellent hardstand and facilities. The Largest chandlery Steve’s Marine Supplies is situated half way between both marinas on Sulphur Point, here you will find the best advice and service.
The café/bar scene in Tauranga City on the waterfront is available to visit but as the harbour bridge restricts access by yacht, alternative transport is required. This is a must do in Tauranga and many of our visitors spend many nights sampling the food and beverage in this vibrant bustling area.
Tauranga is the home of the largest export port in New Zealand aptly named The Port of Tauranga. The harbour provides a perfect hideaway for the many ships that use the Port of Tauranga. The ships usually enter and depart at the top or bottom of the tide to miss the currents in the Mount Maunganui entrance.
Mount Maunganui (known to the locals as the “Mount”) Surf beach when the surf is running has been listed as one of the top surfing destinations in the world. The Matakana Bar however, about every ten years throws up a break up to 2 km long and has been listed in the top ten breaks in the world. Mount Maunganui and Matakana boast 34 Nm of surf beach so you should be able to find a patch just for you. There is also an excellent man made surf reef that has both right and left hand breaks this is situated on the Mount Surf Beach off the end of Tay Street.
Matakana Island is one of three islands which create the Tauranga Harbour and it stretches between the two entrances to the harbour. The safest is the Mount entrance, 800m wide on the Western side of Mt Maunganui, the main Port entrance. The second entrance at the other end of Matakana Island’s 14 Nm Surf Beach in a Northwesterly direction at Bowentown Heads. Both entrances have relatively high tidal flows 4-7 knots depending on the state of the tide. The Mount Entrance is extremely safe and has only been closed due to weather a handful of times. The Bowentown entrance is 500m wide and is a little tricky and should be entered for the first time in calm weather so you can keep in the right place.
Matakana Island is extensively used for both dairy farming and forestry (Pinus Radiata). Two vehicle ferries operate everyday several times a day during the week servicing both industries. The timber mill is situated up Hunters creek. Respectful landing is allowed but there is a total fire ban in the island.
Rangiwaea Island is the second island and it is nestled into a bay of Matakana island creating the inlet called Hunters Creek where at the far end the best Ski lane in the Tauranga area is situated. The beginning of Hunters Creek is a small almost enclosed Bay perfect for that afternoon sleep while the kids are up the top of the creek skiing. Although Rangiwaea is called an island it is only seperated for about an hour at the top of each tide so be careful if you decide to circumnavigate it.
Motuhoa Island is the third large island in the harbour. It is privately owned. There is excellent fishing all around this island and no mater what the prevailing wind because of the topography of the island a calm fishing spot can always be found. Another ski lane is situated at the south western corner of the island.
Te Puna inlet lies to the southwest of Motuhoa Island. The channel is well staked with unlit marker poles. A red barrel on the starboard side should be given a wide berth, as shoaling at the channel mouth, where it meets the main channel, extends further northward than indicated. Otherwise there is a consistent three meters at high tide, up through the moorings to the wharf on the Plummers Pt side. The Inlet is home to 20-odd moorings and the estuary winds up to the Te Puna stream, eventually passing under the railway bridge and into the tidal section of river, under the road bridge at SH2. The inlet is one of the best anchorages in the harbour, but there’s not a lot of swinging room among the moorings. The jetty has a tap for filling boat tanks. A toilet is situated on the reserve, 200m upstream of the jetty. One of the best spots for anchoring is further upstream of the moorings, where excellent anchorage can be found in the lee of large pine trees, at a point where the channel runs close alongside a high bank. This spot is deep and protected, although the channel at the last moorings does shallow out to about 2.5m in places. But it is worth chugging the extra half mile to get out of the mooring area, away from the boat ramp and traffic at the jetty. With no traffic from land or sea, no intrusion of street lights or houses, it is an idyllic overnight anchorage. Te Puna west, found at the end of Snodgrass Rd, features a small boat ramp, useable for all except the last hour or so of the tide. There’s also changing rooms and toilets on the Waitui Reserve.
Omokoroa, on the mainland adjacent to Motuhoa Island, has a public wharf where you can tie up. The sleepy village of a few thousand residents covers the northern end of the long peninsula. Moorings line the nearby channel on the eastern side. Immediately next to the wharf is the local Yacht Club and a Supermarket with a café above and a huge park next door, a perfect place to spend the day. There’s a major boat ramp adjacent to the Omokoroa Boat Club, which is perched on Poles over the harbour. One ramp is for the Matakana vehicle ferry, which crosses several times a day between Omokoroa and the island settlement. There are Public toilets and water on the reserve. A full range of shops are situated further inland. The northern tip of the peninsula is a good anchorage, particularly in a Westerly, although it is exposed to the north, east and south. Anchorage is possible around the peninsula on the eastern side. Continuing north, the channels split off the Omokoroa Peninsula, the main channel proceeding past Flax Point on the Matakana side, the other towards Pahoia Peninsula and the estuary of the Wainui River. The channel has reasonable depth, as the Tauranga Harbour chart shows, up to about the Pahoia Point then shallows markedly to typical Tauranga estuary conditions. The mudflats here have plenty of flounder and stingrays. Smaller boats and trailer yachts will find idyllic anchorages around the Pahoia area, with many little bays and islands, as long you don’t mind a bit of mud and the odd mangrove.
Flax Point, the channel passes close by this promontory on Matakana Island, is the last anchorage or shelter of any kind before heading through the harbour shallows connecting the north and south ends of Tauranga Harbour. It is a handy spot to stopover if you are waiting for high tide to pass through the harbour shallows. The fishing is reasonably good here, with a couple of deep holes. Snapper, kingfish and kahawai are frequent. Scallops have also been in reasonable supply in recent seasons.