Local Attractions Accessible By Water
By Steve Glover and Brian Rogers (www.thesun.co.nz)
Tauranga is smack in the centre of the Bay of Plenty and has had this name since 1769 Captain Cook, although on his first passing he did not enter the Tauranga Harbour, he found the whole area really was the “Bay of Plenty”. The harbour is perfect for boating as it has many anchorages, wharfs, marinas and dedicated Ski Lanes. The channels are well marked to standard international markings and provided you are in those channels you should not have any difficulty avoiding the many sand bars.
There are two excellent marinas, Tauranga (Sulphur Point) Marina is a private Society run marina, the other Tauranga Bridge Marina 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 where you will find the best advice and service.
The café / bar scene in Tauranga City on the waterfront is available to visit however as the harbour bridge restricts access by yacht so another mode of transport must be used. 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.
The Mount Maunganui 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, which is situated on the Mount Surf Beach off the end of Tay Street.
Harbour and Coastal Islands
Matakana Island is one of three islands which create the Tauranga harbour Matakana is the largest Island and it creates the two entrances to the harbour. The safest being the Mount Entrance, it is 800m wide on the Western side of Mt Maunganui and is the main Port entrance. The other entrance is 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 about 5-6 times. The Bowentown entrance is 500m wide and is a little tricky and should be entered for the first time in perfect weather so you can keep in the right place. Matakana Island is extensively used for both dairy farming on the Bowentown end and forestry (Pinus Radiata) on the Mt Maunganui end. Two vehicle ferries operate several times a day during weekdays 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 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. At 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 an island for about an hour at the top of each tide so be careful if you decide to circumnavigate it.
Motuhoa Island the third Island is the last large island in the Harbour, which is privately owned. There is excellent fishing all around this Island, no matter what the prevailing wind because of the topography of the island’s sides a calm fishing spot can always be found. Another ski lane is situated at the south western corner of the island.
Te Puna Inlet. To the southwest of Motuhoa lies the tranquil Te Puna Inlet. 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, were 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 port (Plummers Point) side. The inlet is home to 20-odd moorings and the estuary winds it’s way 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 and a public 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, 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. Even talk to Yacht Club members and they will help you to find the perfect anchoring spot so you can spend more than 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 charts show, 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 as you don’t mind a bit of mud and the odd mangrove.
Flax Point. The channel passes close by this promontory on Matakana Island, 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
Offshore Islands Day trips outside the Harbour
Mayor Island (Tuhua) is 21 Nm from the harbour entrance and you will not find many places in New Zealand as close to being untouched as this. All imported pests have been eradicated on the island by the Department of Conservation. It is a National park and breeding ground for endangered bird species so be careful where you step. The whole northern coastline of Mayor Island has been a Marine Reserve to 1 nautical mile from the coast for about ten years so the diving in this area is exceptional as is the fishing, just ensure you have a good margin for error between you and the reserve. The penalties for fishing in the reserve are severe. It is one of the most beautiful Islands in New Zealand when you are there you can quite imagine yourself as being the first people there. Southeast Bay is by far the best anchorage and is protected by all but the Southeast winds. This is also where the local Maori settlement is. The local Maori who live on the Island do charge a landing fee of $5.00 per person but it is worth it. There are basic toilets and a wood fire powered hot water shower. Tent sites are $6.00 per night.
Motiti Island is 12 Nm from the Harbour entrance. There are many residents on the Island; the industry is predominantly Avocado and Kiwifruit. Fishing and diving in this area is terrific. There is also the Historic Steam Tug TAIOMA that was sunk off the island with the express purpose of being a diving attraction. It is clearly marked on the chart. There are guided tours to the wreck by most of the dive and underwater shops.
Karewa Island is 5 Nm from the Harbour Entrance. This Island is also a national park/reserve however landing is prohibited on this Island as it is a breeding ground for one of our national treasures, the Tuatara a New Zealand lizard. Fishing around this island is very good, there is deep water right up to the rocks most of the way around.The Island is used as a rounding mark in many of the yacht races in Tauranga.
There is great fishing within 5 Nm of the full length of both the Main and Matakana surf beaches during offshore winds in relative shelter.
Tauranga looks forward to seeing you here and helping you with your cruising and refit needs.