About Tauranga Harbour
A large tidal estuary covering an area of 218 square kilometres.
The name 'Tauranga' means 'landing place.' Local iwi and hapu
have several versions of how the name came to be attached to the
harbour. To drive from one end of the harbour to the other would
take you about one hour and cover over 60 kilometres.
The harbour catchment
The surrounding land from which water runs into the harbour is
used extensively for urban, horticultural and agricultural
purposes. The Tauranga area is one of New Zealand's fastest growing
residential areas. The climate of the area provides ideal
conditions for growing fruit such as kiwifruit and avocados. There
is also land in the catchment that is ideal for sheep and cattle
East to West
At the eastern end of the harbour is the landmark Mauao or Mount
Maunganui and the city of Tauranga. This entrance is deeper and
allows for a large amount of cargo ships to enter and leave the
Port of Tauranga. At the western end is the small coastal
settlement of Otawhiwhi or Bowentown. This entrance is shallower
but is often used by recreational boaties.
Largely covered by pine plantations, Matakana Island forms a
natural barrier between the harbour and the Pacific Ocean. Matakana
Island is also home to a number of people who live in the island's
settlement. The island is largely covered in plantation pines for
forestry. The sheltered side of the island has inlets and lagoons
and the ocean side of the island is popular with local surfers.
The harbour waters are mostly shallow. At low tide more than 60
per cent of the harbour bed is exposed. The estuaries of Tauranga
Harbour are home to many kinds of wildlife. Young fish spawn in the
shallow waters and many birds nest on the harbour margins. A large
volume of water enters and leaves the harbour with each tide.
The harbour has long been an important resource for the people
of the Bay of Plenty. For Maori, the harbour has strong spiritual
significance and is a traditional source of food. Flounder,
kahawai, mussels and cockles are some of the kaimoana (seafood)
that can be collected from the harbour. There are often limits as
to how much can be collected and where they can be collected
Economic activity revolves around the Port of Tauranga which
operates several kilometres of wharves on land which has been
reclaimed from the harbour at Sulphur Point and at Mount Maunganui.
Established in 1873, the port handles more export cargo than any
other port in the country.