Top 5 Things To Do In Mount Maunganui
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Mount Maunganui, or “The Mount” as its locally known, is located on a peninsula at the North Eastern tip of Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand. Renowned for its picture perfect beaches and widely regarded as a coastal paradise, it is a well-known and very popular year-round holiday destination in New Zealand.
Want to know all the best things to do at the Mount? Read on for our top 5 fun things to do in and around Mount Maunganui.
1. Climb That Mountain
The most prominent feature of the Mount’s landscape is of course the iconic volcanic cone standing 232 metres above sea level at the tip of the peninsular. This volcanic cone also named Mount Maunganui, is now officially known by its Māori name Mauao which roughly translated it means ‘caught by the light’. Mauao is considered very important and sacred by the local Māori iwi and features heavily in local Māori legends and historic events.
Experience the best of Mauao by taking one of the popular walking tracks; The Base Track, as its name suggests, circles the base of Mauao and provides access to beautiful scenery, fresh sea air, small beach inlets and rocky outcrops where you can stop and watch the boats passing by.
The alternative Summit Track requires a reasonably good level of fitness as it is uphill all the way. There are two options; one which takes the eastern side, and includes some steep wooden steps; and the other that takes you around the Western and Northern sides taking in the breath-taking views of the Pacific Ocean and nearby Matakana Island. Upon reaching the top you will find it was well worth the effort, with the most spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding harbour, ocean, township and beaches below.
As you return to the base of Mauao consider taking a relaxing soak in the salt water hot pools, the perfect way to unwind after a long day.
2. Experience The Buzz Of The Bay
On the Western side of Mauao lays Pilot Bay, home to one of the busiest seaports in the country, which hosts a growing number of luxury cruise ships each year. Spend some time watching the cruise ships as they come and go from Pilot Bay while enjoying fish and chips on one of the many public picnic tables provided. The sheer size of the ships up close is something worth seeing, and often leaves you wondering how on earth they stay afloat!
Pilot Bay, being very sheltered, provides the perfect conditions to try your hand at some popular water sports like kitesurfing, sea kayaking, jet skiing, wind surfing and stand up paddle boarding. There are numerous companies who will provide complete hireage of all necessary gear and clothing required.
If you feel like getting out of the harbour and out into the open ocean, why not charter a boat and engage in some deep sea fishing, diving or experience swimming with dolphins. The options are fully customisable helping to create those long lasting epic holiday memories.
3. Soak Up Some Sun At The Beach
Over on the opposite side of the peninsula, to the East of Mauao, is the Mount’s Main Beach, where you can swim, surf, sunbathe, search for shells, build sandcastles or just relax on the beautiful white sand. The Mount’s main beach is extremely popular during the summer months and is a fantastic swimming destination. The local lifeguards regularly patrol the beach and provide supervised swimming between the flags, making it fun and safe for the whole family.
Feel like a bit more of a challenge? Sign up for some surfing or boogie boarding lessons. Local instructors supply wetsuits, boards and personalised instruction to suit all abilities. Another great idea is to hire a specially designed bike, capable of riding over the sand with “fat” tyres, to take in more of the beach as it extends down toward Papamoa and beyond.
If golf is more you’re thing; only minutes from the beach set in peaceful tree-lined surroundings is the local golf course. Offering the perfect 18 hole premier setting for golfers of all abilities. Enjoy a round of golf, take some lessons to improve your game or seek out the Pro Shop for all your golfing needs.
If you are short on time or think the hike up Mauao is not your thing then Moturiki Island is worth a look, it is accessed from the Mount’s main beach and after a short walk along a well formed track you are able to take in uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean, scramble over rocks, explore rock pools or try a spot of fishing.
4. Hit The Shops
For those who have had their fill of sun sand and surf, only a short walk away from the beach is the Main Street which provides shopping opportunities for every occasion; with boutique clothing stores, restaurants and cafes, gifts and souvenirs, health and beauty, art galleries and much more. There is also a Farmers Market held every Sunday in the Pheonix Car Park, where you can experience some the area’s finest local fresh local produce.
If you are looking for something a bit more mainstream the Mount is also home to the huge Bayfair Shopping Centre offering a wide variety of shops to choose from including fashion, supermarkets, electrical, gifts, health, beauty and more. An indoor playground is available to keep the children occupied.
5. Take To The Air
If you’re up for something a bit more adventurous, try taking a bird’s eye view of The Mount and its surroundings with a scenic flight, available from the Tauranga Airport situated in The Mount. There are three destination islands worth considering either visiting or just viewing from the air; Mayor Island, White Island and Motiti Island, all situated within the Bay of Plenty coastal waters.
Mayor Island (Tahua) is approximately 40 km North of The Mount, and is around 1277 hectares in size, the island is steep in nature with very little flat land, only pre-arranged visitors are allowed, and they usually travel in by boat. It is privately owned and currently operates as a wildlife refuge. At 354 metres above sea level the island offers some impressive rough terrain, native bird spotting opportunities and several walking tracks.
Motiti Island is located approximately 20 km to the East of The Mount, most visitors travel to the island by air. Being a relatively small, flat island of only 1000 hectares exploring the island on foot is a popular choice. Diving and snorkelling are particularly popular here with a tug boat wreck only a few metres offshore. Or if fishing is more to your taste, have a go either off the rocks or from a boat.
White Island (Te Puia o Whakaari) is an active volcano situated approximately 90 km East of The Mount. The island is roughly 350 hectares in size and rises to a height of 321 m above sea level. Visitors cannot land without permission, but access is available through authorised tourist operators. Experienced guides will take you on a walk across this fascinating natural attraction. Due to its volatile nature the island attracts many tourists and scientist alike.
Mount Maunganui is the perfect destination for those seeking sun, sand, relaxation and a bit of adventure! Boasting great weather year round and a relaxed beach atmosphere, The Mount is well worth adding to your itinerary. Wanting to make the most of your stay? The perfect way to get around when visiting The Mount is by hiring a car, giving you the freedom to explore further afield and enjoy all the region has to offer at your own pace.