Tauranga City, New Zealand. If you've never been there then you are really missing out. I do not say this about just any old place. If you've never sat on top of 'The Mount' watching the sun rise or had a cold beer on 'The Strand' then you should get in a plane, train or automobile and get there as soon as possible! You can find Tauranga on the East Coast of New Zealand's North Island. It was once a small coastal community but now boasts the title of New Zealand's fifth largest city only after Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton. Driving in from the north on top of the Kaimai mountain range you'll get your first glimpse of Tauranga harbor and Mauao, Mt Maunganui's famous dormant volcano which is popular with tourists and locals alike.
Tauranga is more of a sprawling city with shopping centers located in suburbs instead of concentrated in one area in the CBD. With a population of 120,000 traffic can get pretty busy (although still nothing compared to Auckland's gridlocked nightmare), so make sure you allow plenty of time during peak hour. If you're looking for fun activities then you've come to the right place. From Tauranga you can take a dolphin safari, swimming with these beautiful mammals. Go windsurfing, surfing, parasailing, hang gliding, micro lighting, skydiving and base jumping from the top of Mauao just to name a few adrenaline pumping activities.
Only a short drive away to Whakatane you can take a boat ride out to White Island and walk around a real active volcano! This is one of the only places in the world to do this, on your way out to the island you can watch for dolphins and whales! If adventure is not your style, why not visit during Easter and relax at one of the many bars and restaurants listening to live jazz. The New Zealand Jazz Festival is held in Tauranga every year so make sure you book your hotels well in advance so you do not miss out. Tauranga really is a treasure trove full of wonderful sites and things to do. I whole heartedly recommend you spend a few days here next time you're planning your yearly vacation.