Tauranga Harbour is in the western part of the Bay of Plenty. This sheltered stretch of water is 20 miles long by 5 miles wide and is enclosed by a long, narrow, pine-covered sandbar known as Matakana Island. There are two approximately ½ mile-wide entrances to the harbour, one at each end of this island, and both are guarded by ancient volcanoes. In the north the guardian for the Katikati entrance is Te Ho or Bowentown Heads, whereas the guardian for the Tauranga entrance in the south is Mount Maunganui.
The presence of earthworks and midden heaps show that the mild climate of the harbour was long appreciated by the Maori people. The white settlers have also begun to realise what excellent panoramas, fishing grounds, and climate the region has to offer. Although most of the beaches of the inner harbour are muddy, the long sandy ocean beaches at Mount Maunganui, Bowentown, and Waihi Beach are famous for swimming and surfing.
Most of the port facilities are at Mount Maunganui, a few miles from Tauranga city. These are bound to develop further as more products from the immediate area and from the Matamata, Putaruru, Tokaroa, and Rotorua areas are exported. This will be especially true once the railway tunnel pierces the Kaimai Range to the west. Such developments, together with its attractions for tourists and retired people, have made Tauranga and Mount Maunganui among the most progressive areas in New Zealand. Preliminary work on the construction of the Kaimai tunnel has now (1965) begun.
by James Cecil Schofield, M.SC., New Zealand Geological Survey, Otahuhu.