Mount Maunganui has the small seaside town feel, despite being located on the outskirts of the much bigger city of Tauranga. The town gets its name from the extinct volcanic cone that rises above the city, also known as Mount Maunganui, or by its Maori name Mauao.
There are many fun and funky shops to explore, as well as quite a few restaurants and cafe’s. Oh, and don’t forget the ice cream! Monte Gelato has absolutely superb quality ice cream, although if you are after quantity, then check out Copenhagen Cones instead.
Mount Maunganui beach is lifegaurd patrolled in summer and has very few currents, although caution is always necessary in the ocean. Although the swell is less consistent than other beaches, Mount Maunganui remains a popular surf beach.
Andrew and I weren’t lucky enough to be there on big swell days, but I still took our surfboard out for a good paddle to stay in shape. I took the bodyboard out too, which was more appropriate for the size of the waves and the location of the break the days that we were there.
With its proximity to Tauranga, there was nearly constant
procession of massive container ships, cruise ships, sailboats, and other assorted boats passing by. I had fun watching them; it’s still impressive to watch something so large maneuver on the water.
Andrew and I stayed at the Beachside Holiday Resort, which had a great price for NZMCA members, not to mention a discount for the nearby hot saltwater pools!
We took advantage of the great price and visited the pools, which consist of a warm active pool, a large hot pool, two spa pools, and three private pools. I’m used to the chlorine or mineral hot pools; I think I float too well for the saltwater pools! It was very relaxing and made for a very enjoyable evening.
Beachside Holiday Resort also happens to be located right on the boardwalk, which made it convenient to participate in another popular activity; walking!
If you haven’t noticed from previous posts, there are literally hundreds of walking and tramping tracks in New Zealand. While it wouldn’t be possible to explore them all, I aim to explore the most interesting ones in the areas that I visit.
There are two main tracks around the Mount; the circle path around the mount or the summit track. Summit tracks are also quite common here; it seems everyone wants to climb to the top of the nearest peak, wherever it may
Andrew and I hiked both trails in the week that we were in the area. Both were pleasant, although the summit was, of course, a bit harder. Both tracks took us around
an hour round trip, which isn’t too long. The views from the summit are beautiful.
There are quite a few sheep grazing on the mount, although there are also signs indicating that, since there are shepherds in attendance, to please not disturb the sheep. While walking around the mount we also notice a few shiny moving rocks:
seals! It was possible to walk out fairly close to the rock that they were perched on, but we were extremely fortunate to have an opportunity to take some sea kayaks out.
Our neighbors had rented kayaks for four hours and very generously offered to let us take them out for the last hour while they had lunch. I’ve done boat launches, dock launches,
and beach launches at the lake; kayaking into the surf was a completely different experience. Our neighbors helped us launch so that we started off upright (always a good thing!), and then Andrew and I paddled around the mount to seal island.
We got really good views of two adults seals and then, as we were leaving, a baby seal pup poked its head out from behind the rocks with a giant yawn. It was so adorable! It took about 25 minutes to paddle about halfway around the mount and then we had to turn back. If I thought beach take offs in the surf were difficult, well, I definitely need to practice my beach landings. Both Andrew and I ended up going for a somewhat unintentional swim.
Andrew caught a wave that picked up the back of his kayak and drove the nose into the ocean, flipping him in almost a somersault. I managed to catch the wave slightly sideways and nearly surfed it in until the wave flipped my kayak completely broadside and dumped me over. It was still fun though and gives me something to practice in my kayak back home.
Andrew and I had a lot of fun at Mount Maunganui and I wish we could have stayed longer. It was a beautiful place with fun shops and great people. Time to move on to more adventures though!