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A Visit to Tauranga, The Bay of Plenty

Looking for a place with plenty to do? Tauranga in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty certainly lives up to its name. And it's accessible too.

We had visited Rotorua a few years back, but we’d never ventured as far afield as Tauranga on the coast. This area has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. It’s a magnet for people migrating from Auckland, seeking a better and more affordable lifestyle. There are a lot of retirees moving in, drawn by the area’s laid-back ‘resort’ lifestyle. We were quite excited to spend a few days in Tauranga and discover its many delights.

Adapting Tauranga Accommodation

We stayed about twenty minutes along the coast from Mount Maunganui, at the popular Papamoa Beach Resort. This was a wonderful and practical location for us, travelling with three young children.

The resort was busy and booked up – including, unfortunately, both of their wheelchair-accessible cabins overlooking the beach. We booked into one of the last units available, a cute two-bedroom garden villa adjacent to the children’s playground. Even though the villa wasn’t wheelchair accessible, we managed to adapt.

We had to lift our son into the villa, as it had three steps. Luckily, the entry itself was lip-free, through a ranch sliding door. Inside, we found an easy access open shower; it wasn’t classified as a full wet-floor shower, but it did provide lip-free access through a wide glass door. It also had two shower heads, on either side. There was enough room for us to use our son’s Hippocampe all-terrain wheelchair for showering. This piece of equipment is very versatile for us, and being waterproof is an added bonus. It’s excellent for accessing beaches, and it folds away easily into a bag for travelling. Its titanium frame is lightweight, easy to lift in and out of vehicles.

Unfortunately, the route to the beach from the resort is not wheelchair accessible. We found a solution, though: road access next to the Blue BiYou restaurant (more on that in a moment). It’s even possible to park down there, which makes life even easier.

Aerial view of villas at Papamoa Beach Resort, with ocean visible in the background and green grass sprawling out in front of balcony
Even when accessibility isn’t perfect, we can adapt to ensure an enjoyable holiday for the whole family. Credit: Tourism Bay Of Plenty

Fuelling Up in Tauranga

The Resort itself is next door to the Blue BiYou restaurant, well known for its fresh seafood. It has stunning views overlooking the beach, with easy access and car parking out front.

There are also plenty of takeaway places across the road to choose from.

My favourite way to start the day in Tauranga was visiting the barista coffee window by the shops. It opens early, with plenty of locals lining up for their morning coffee fix. We also frequented the well-stocked bakery on the corner.

On the same row of shops, we found a great dairy to stock up on essentials.

Stay & Play in Tauranga

This story first appeared in Travel Without Limits magazine. You can subscribe here.

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