Once you’re through the protecting ring of suburbs, it’s apparent that rampant development hasn’t spoilt central TAURANGA (“safe anchorage” in Maori), huddled on narrow peninsula with city parks and gardens backing a lively waterfront area.
You can easily spend half a day checking out the art gallery, strolling along the waterfront or lingering in the shops, restaurants and bars in Tauranga’s compact city centre, concentrated between Tauranga Harbour and Waikareao Estuary. Come summer, though, you’ll soon want to head over to Mount Maunganui (see p.000).
In 1864 the tiny community of Tauranga became the scene of the Battle of Gate Pa, one of the most decisive engagements of the New Zealand Wars. In January the government sent troops to build two redoubts, hoping to prevent supplies and reinforcements from reaching the followers of the Maori King (see p.000), who were fighting in the Waikato. Most of the local Ngaiterangi hurried back from the Waikato and challenged the soldiers from a pa they quickly built near an entrance to the mission land, which became known as Gate Pa. In April, government troops surrounded the pa in what was New Zealand’s only naval blockade, and pounded it with artillery. Despite this, the British lost about a third of their assault force and at nightfall the Ngaiterangi slipped through the British lines to fight again in the Waikato.