Rebellion has broken out among the ranks of independent tour bus operators, annoyed at being restricted to a small section of Salisbury Ave on cruise ship days at Mount Maunganui.
The visit by Celebrity Solstice last week saw several using carparks that were meant to be for operators contracted to Tourism Bay of Plenty.
One of the mini buses belonged to Arrow Tours, the company owned by Roger Simister who has become a critic of the parking arrangements imposed by the council-controlled tourism organisation.
Simister had become irritated at attempts to herd his buses into the small and already crowded row of carparks on the northern side of Salisbury Ave opposite the police station.
Asked why he had switched a bus to the off-street parks fronting the Mount Ocean Sports Club (MOSC) and Pilot Bay, he said: "If there is room, why wouldn't you...there's heaps of room in the MOSC carpark.
"All I am here for is to give cruise ship passengers a good day, and I have to put up with this nonsense.''
Another non-contracted tour operator Jim Archer of Archer Tours used the two furthest parks in the MOSC carpark for his mini buses. "I have always parked here - I always come here," he said.
The contracts were part of a new drive by Tourism BOP to restructure its service to passengers and reduce the $117,000 loss chalked up last season by the Tauranga Cruise i-SITE.
There was a limit of 10 contracts costing $7000 a season, giving these operators sole rights to sell through the dockside Tauranga Cruise i-SITE and giving them access to the main areas of carparks.
Simister highlighted the council's new bylaw to control where tour operators with buses carrying seven or more persons were able to park. The bylaw was passed on October 16 and takes effect on November 25.
He said the bylaw did not give any parking priority to operators contracted to Tourism Bay of Plenty.
The Bay of Plenty Times put questions to both Tauranga City Council and Tourism Bay of Plenty.
In response, Tauranga City Council's communications manager Aimee Driscoll said that by giving approval to Tourism BOP to close roads (in the area outside the port gates), it gave Tourism BOP authority to control entry into the closure area.
When the road was not closed, the bylaw applied.
Following a period of consultation, she said it was agreed that operators who did not hold a contract with Tourism BOP and who had ''genuine pre-book passengers'' could park inside the closed area on the northern side of Salisbury Ave.
''Tourism Bay of Plenty's decision to segregate parking is to ensure they know who is parked where, so that passengers can be easily guided to their operator of choice and pre-booked passengers can be safely escorted by their tour guide,'' she said.
The new bylaw was introduced following recent Government legislation that essentially put all small passenger transport operators on a level playing field, regardless of whether they drove taxis Uber cars or tour minibuses.
Simister's frustration was shared by other non-contracted operators, with Simon Beaton of Learning Journeys saying, in his view, Tourism BOP had no grounds to direct people where to go.
Another independent, Andrew Nuttall of New Zealand Discovery Tours, said that when he arrived to pick up pre-booked passengers for this season's first ship visit, there were not enough parks. He was told by the parking attendant that nothing could be done because he was not part of the contracted operators' group.
''It is just not working,'' he said.