A sun-seeker’s haven, nature oasis and hipster heaven, Mt. Maunganui is a small town with loads to enjoy. Situated on the North Island and perched on a peninsula just north of Tauranga, this gem of a town is a beloved getaway, especially during the summer months.
“The Mount” is definitely the center of attention, drawing beach bums and savvy surfers alike, but there’s so much more to this small area than just idyllic sands. Be sure to pack your swimming suit, take along your tramping shoes and campervans too, because there’s tons of adventure to be had.
Another big plus: on 19 and 20 September, the Great NZ Leisure Camp & Outdoor Show welcomes travellers of all kinds! And SHAREaCAMPER will be representing too!
We are getting excited to share the campervan love with visitors, and we’re just as excited to explore the area. Here is what we plan to enjoy on our breaks in Mt. Maunganui.
1. Beach Activities
The Mount itself is locally known as Mauao, or caught by the light of day, and is a dormant volcano which dominates the scenery. Due to its location on a tombolo–the geographical formation which consists of a sandbar connecting an island to the mainland–there is plenty of great beach space to enjoy.
The waters are patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months, and in other times of the year, local volunteers help to keep the beach safe. The beach is rife with amazing wildlife like dolphins and native birds, and it’s full of fun human activities like beach volleyball, sandcastle contests and surfing too.
Choose from one of any four great beaches in the area: Mount Main Beach for an easy access, Pilot Bay for boating activities, Moturiki Island for rock climbs and blow holes or Matakana Island which is only accessible by boat and features stunning, sandy beaches lining a pine forest.
2. Nature Tramps
You’re guaranteed some fun hikes and stunning views on this vibrant, old volcano. From glow-worm caves to fishing, diving and hot salt water pools, Mt. Manganui has it all.
An absolute must-do is hiking around Mauao. Reaching up 232 metres above the Pacific, the peak of the Mount is a main attraction on any visit to the Bay of Plenty. On your way up, you’ll find rock climbers, paragliders and a whole assortment of nature lovers enjoying the beautiful scene. The Summit Walk is slightly challenging and takes about an hour and a half to complete.
A steeper and quicker way to summit the Mount is to take the Oruahine track which is a bit more challenging, but will get you to the top in just 22 minutes. It begins at the lighthouse and scales the Mount with a view of the ocean side.
While on your way, you’ll meet up with Tangaroa, God of the Sea, whose 3 metre statue stands tall on the western front to greet incoming sailors. Te Kauia is the large rock which personifies the spirit of an elderly native woman to whom local sailors and kayakers offer her gifts in return for a successful and safe voyage.
3. Local Charm
If the assortment of outdoor activities isn’t enough, then you’ll be in luck with the many cafes, boutiques and adventure parks that smatter this little town. A necessary stop will be Cafe Eighty Eight, right on Mt. Maunganui Road (#88). Homemade scones, delightful cakes and bold coffee are all here to start your day off right. For a tasty treat or midday meal, head over to the neighbours at Turkish Delight Cafe for a plentiful portion of savory lamb or mouthwatering tenderloins.
If you are in the mood for some South Pacific wine, Mills Reef Winery is just the place to visit. A family-run operation, this winery is known for it’s Bordeau varietals and stretches over 20 acres of beautiful backcountry.
If you are an aviation enthusiast, you’ll want to head over to Classic Flyers NZ to take a trip back in time to the days of early aviation, and check out some classic planes in their three hangars. It’s an educational and nostalgic museum that’s great for all ages.
We can’t wait to dig into Mt. Maunganui, and we are so excited to see all the visitors at the Great NZ Leisure & Outdoor Show. Come say hi and sign up for your next camper travels at site 54.
Image Credit: Locus Research on Flickr