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Mount Maunganui

Main Beach at Mt Maunganui, photo credit: kiwinz via Flickr Creative Commons (cropped)

With its white sand beaches and surf rolling in from the blue Pacific, Mount Maunganui is a permanently popular holiday spot.

It’s renowned for its beach culture and summer revelry. Essentially a coastal suburb of Tauranga, it enjoys a bustling holiday atmosphere, with lots of shops and restaurants.

For spectacular views climb to the top of Mauao, the volcanic cone that is the focal point of the Tauranga landscape. Mauao, or Mt Maunganui, is sacred to the three iwi of Tauranga Moana (Tauranga Harbour): Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Pūkenga. Maori legend tells how a lovelorn mountain was dragged to this spot by the patupaiarehe, fairy-like people of the forest. Fleeing back to the forest as the sun rose, they left the mountain, who thus became known as “Mauao”, meaning “caught by the sun”. If climbing to the summit looks too strenuous, the 3.4km track around the base will also give you lovely views of sea and beaches, ships coming out of the harbour and if you’re lucky, perhaps a sea lion or whale.

The ocean-side beaches of Maunganui draw crowds keen to surf, swim, or kitesurf. On the harbour side of Mauao is Pilot Bay, a sheltered beach perfect for small children to swim at. The harbour and port at Tauranga are busy with cruise and cargo ships, and there are many boat charters for those who want to get out and explore, fish or dive. Tauranga also offers art galleries, music and a host of other attractions, if you fancy a change from the beach. With great parks and bush in the Tauranga area, its worth spending some time walking or biking too.

What to do

  • Climb to the top of Mt Maunganui (Mauao)
  • Soak in the hot salt water pools at the foot of the Mount
  • Try a kayaking tour, to fish, see the harbour, or drift through a glowworm canyon
  • Take a scenic cruise or go dolphin watching

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Where to stay

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Piwa perched