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Tauranga Harbour

Tauranga Harbour is a regional treasure. The sheltered waters of the region's harbours are a major attraction to many people. Locals and vistiors alike enjoy fishing, diving, and swimming within the clear waters of Tauranga Harbour.

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 Tauranga Harbour 

About Tauranga Harbour

Tauranga is one of New Zealand's largest natural harbours, it is home to the country's biggest export port, the Port of Tauranga. Windsurfers and jet skiers seek action while yachts and launches cruise the harbour. Find out more.

Check out our Tauranga Harbour Booklet (2MB, pdf) for lots of information about the harbour and ideas about how to enjoy it.

The Tauranga Harbour Recreational Guide (3.3MB, pdf) contains boating information and maps for the harbour as well as Maketu Estuary, Little Waihi Estuary and the Kaituna River.

Harbour conditions

The Port of Tauranga provides information on the latest Tauranga Harbour conditions.

The Bowentown entrance to Tauranga Harbour can be viewed through the bar camera positioned at the Waihi Beach Coastguard building.

Tangata Whenua of Tauranga Moana

Tauranga Harbour or Te Awanui which is the Maori name for it, is a physical and spiritual symbol of identity for all whanau, hapu and iwi living in the harbour catchment area.

Recreation in the Harbour

Tauranga Harbour is a hugely popular place for recreation. Pick any fine summer day and there will be hundreds of people out enjoying themselves.

Find out about navigation and safety and moorings in Tauranga Harbour.

One of the actions of the Tauranga Harbour Recreation Strategy is the establishment of a forum comprising relevant agencies, recreation groups, tangata whenua and community representatives.  These forums are called the Tauranga Harbour Recreation Users forums.

Commercial activities in the Harbour

Commercial activity revolves around the Port of Tauranga which operates several kilometres of wharves.


How healthy is Tauranga Harbour?

Tauranga Harbour is home to many special plants and animals and an important source of kai moana for locals. 

Council's work

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is leading work to address harbour issues and works with community care groups and other organisations to ensure that our harbour is a safe, healthy environment for all living species.

See a snapshot of our work in the Tauranga Harbour and surrounding catchments last year.

Catchment action plans are in place for the harbour's 16 sub-catchments.

Harbour issues

Mangroves, biosecurity, loss of sea grass habitat, sea lettuce and sedimentation are all issues that are affecting water quality and our ability to enjoy the harbour.

Monitoring and research

Monitoring shows that commonly used beaches in Tauranga Harbour generally have good water quality although some areas become unsafe for swimming for approximately 48 hours (two days) after heavy or prolonged rain.

The harbour bed is generally in good health except for localised ‘hot-spots’ around stormwater outfalls and some areas where intense urban development  is having a negative impact on wildlife such as sea grass and filter-feeding shellfish species.

See more environmental monitoring information and research reports about Tauranga Harbour.

You can help

There are many simple steps you can take to care for Tauranga Harbour: at home, around your garden or farm, and of course, on and around the water.


Publications and Fact Sheets

Visit our Knowledge Centre for factsheets and documents about Tauranga Harbour.

See environmental monitoring information and research reports about Tauranga Harbour.

Strategies and plans

The Tauranga Harbour Strategy was prepared in 2006 by Bay of Plenty Regional Council with support from Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the harbour community. It evaluated the issues, gaps and overlaps in the management of Tauranga Harbour and identified a range of actions to address them.

The Tauranga Harbour Recreation Strategy was developed in 2008.  It outlines tasks that need to be done by each council in order to better manage the recreational use of the harbour.

The Regional Coastal Environment Plan covers all coastal marine areas in the Bay of Plenty, including Tauranga Harbour.  It provides site specific information about coastal values, sets out rules to regulate some activities in the coastal marine area (including when a coastal permit might be needed) and contains policies (which inform resource consent decisions) about important environmental issues on land adjacent to the sea.

Our Ten Year Plan and Annual Plan sets out what work Regional Council has planned to do to care for the Tauranga Harbour.


Tauranga Harbour symposium

On Thursday 7 March 2013, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, together with University of Waikato and Priority One, hosted a symposium to share the latest information and ideas on protecting and managing the Harbour.

The next symposium is planned for March 2015.

At the 2013 symposium people learned and heard about:

  • the latest research on the harbour and catchment
  • community work to improve our harbour and catchment
  • agency projects to improve and restore the harbour and its catchment

View the 2013 Tauranga Harbour Symposium programme and presentations.

Check out Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman John Cronin's interview on Central TV about the 2013 Symposium.