Tauranga is a holiday spot for those seeking the sun and sea. Although there are many beachside towns in New Zealand’s North Island, Tauranga is vastly popular with holidaymakers. Located next to the Bay of Plenty, the town’s north-western area is a popular recreational spot. Lined up with shops and restaurants, from fish and chips to Mediterranean, it is a great place for a relaxing holiday, plenty of green spaces and beaches for people to spend time outside in the sun. At the northern tip of the town is Mt. Maunganui.
Known to locals as “the Mount” (Mauao in Maori), the extinct volcanic crater is the locals’ favourite outdoors hangout. At the foot of the mount, there is a camping ground, shower and toilet facilities, as well as a kitchen.
The Mount itself is a wonderful sanctuary full of birdlife and pristine waters. Patches of small beaches can be found around the mount and the walking paths are lined with trees. There are three different paths around the mount. One goes around it and two take you to the top, one being a steeper but faster climb to the top. Expect a very beautiful view from your walk. At the top of the hill, there are many rabbits, perhaps to the delight of visitors but they are actually pests.
If it is getting too warm, you can always take a dip in the clear cold water by one of the many small beaches. There are also a lot of small rock pools and if you are lucky, you might spot small animals such as crabs that make their home in the shallows.
The Mount’s location is great because it lets you experience nature and participate in outdoor activities but you are still close enough to the amenities. If you wish to stay at the camping ground, accommodation can be booked via Mount Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park. Accommodation options are cabins, camping caravans and tents. Inquire directly with the park for pricing.
Next to the mount, there are a handful of restaurants on Marine Parade road. However, on a hot sunny day you should not miss the famous ice-cream shop, Copenhagen Cones, which often sees lots of young people queuing outside. The famous ice-cream with homemade waffles costs 3.27 USD or 4.90 NZD for a small portion. Other items on the menu include milkshakes, yoghurt and snowghurts.
If you still have a lot of energy left after climbing Mt. Maunganui, you should visit Moturiki Island. Located to the east of the mount, the island can be reached during low tide from the long white sandy beach parallel to Marine Parade road. The small rocky island makes for a nice half-hour walk. At the edge of the island, there is a rocky cliff with a stunning view.
At the end of the day, or early morning, you can treat yourself to a relaxing soak. Located right next to Mt. Maunganui’s camping ground is the Mount Hot Pools. There is an outdoor heated salt-water lap pool and a shallow pool to relax in. Massage services are also available. Entry fee is 7.22 USD per person (or 10.80 NZD). Pool opens from 6am most days of the week while Sundays and public holidays have slightly later opening time from 8am. Closing time is at 10pm every day.
Tauranga is easy to get to, whether by car or bus. Naked Bus provides comfortable bus rides to the town (price varies). If you indicate to the driver that you would like to go to the Mount, you will be dropped off in front of Pacific Coast Lodge & Backpackers on Maunganui Road, about half an hour walk to the Mount. If you are driving from Auckland, the journey will take three hours at most.
Why you should visit
The Mount is a great place to visit for first-timers in New Zealand, especially if you are located in Auckland and are looking for a short getaway. It is like a small slice of New Zealand nature, all put together, while at the same time you can enjoy the conveniences of a small town.
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