Destination – Mount Maunganui

Destination – Mount Maunganui

Located across the harbour from Tauranga, “the Mount” is almost surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, with New Zealand’s best beach on one side of its peninsula, and the sheltered waters of Pilot Bay on the other.

And overlooking it all towers the mountain itself – Mauao.

Standing 232m above sea level, this iconic landmark is treasured by Maori and locals alike. Mauao means ‘caught be the dawn’ and the mountain is steeped in Maori history and mythology. Several historical pa sites (villages) have been built on this extinct volcanic cone, the evidence of which can still be seen today as you explore the popular walking tracks.

It will take you around 45 minutes to circumnavigate Mauao’s 3.4km-long base track. This is New Zealand’s most popular walk, with expansive ocean views, majestic pohutukawa trees, peaceful beach inlets and numerous places where you can stop and admire the view. The wide, well-maintained pathway is suitable for strollers and you can finish your walk off with an ice-cream on the beach afterwards.

Of course you’ll find the best views right at the top. There are several tracks to Mauao’s summit where you can enjoy breathtaking 360° views along the entire Bay of Plenty coastline, and out across the harbour to Tauranga and the Kaimai Range beyond.

Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach has been crowned the ‘Best Beach in New Zealand’ by TripAdvisor, and ranks among the top 25 best beaches in the world.

Relax on the wide expanse of white sand and swim in the warm ocean waves. This is a great place to kick back and people watch. Numerous beach, ocean and multisport events are held here and people of all ages enjoy the Main Beach year-round.

Stroll across the road and choose a table at any number of beachside cafes and restaurants. This relaxed al-fresco dining precinct is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast, brunch or lunch in the sunshine.

Just around the corner you’ll find some of the best boutique shopping in New Zealand. Explore Mount Maunganui’s main street which features more than 30 specialist women’s clothing stores (including many high-end fashion boutiques). Gift shops, souvenirs plus contemporary and fine art galleries sit alongside 60 different cafes, bars and fine-dining restaurants.

If you want a truly relaxing break, make sure you visit the Mt Maunganui Hot Salt Water Pools. Nestled right at the base of Mauao, soak in the warm healing water to help relieve any aches and pains. The children’s pool and slide area makes it a great family-friendly outing.

Mauao also marks the entrance to Tauranga’s harbour and the port has become the largest cruise tour port destination in New Zealand. Watching luxury cruise ships sail in and out of Pilot Bay is a fun way to spend a summer’s evening. Enjoy a picnic dinner and be impressed by the sheer size of these vessels as they draw closer to shore.

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