Tauranga’s beaches – the stuff of legend

Tauranga, already the largest settlement in North Island‘s Bay of Plenty region, is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing cities.  The area surrounding Mount Maunganui, which is a 15-minute drive from Tauranga,  is especially popular year round with visitors and locals alike. Here are some of the top things to do in Mount Maunganui .

How Maunganui got its name

Maunganui is one of three mountains that can be found in the Hautere forest.  According to Maori legend, Maunganui was spurned by the mountain Pūwhenua.  Desperately in love, he was devastated to find out that Pūwhenua’s heart belonged to another mountain called Otanewainuku.  Distraught, Maunganui begged the fairies of the Huatere forest to drag him into the Pacific Ocean in the hope that he might forget his pain.  They fashioned a magical rope and began to haul him down to the water’s edge.  As they did so, they created the valley in which today flows the Waimapu River whose name translates as “weeping water”.  But as the sun came up, the fairies fled, leaving Maunganui stranded on the shore where he has sat to this day.  The Maori name for Mount Maunganui is Mauao, which means “caught in the light of day”.

Things to do in Mount Maunganui

Top Things to do in Mount Maunganui

The Mount

At the top of Mauao, 230 metres above sea level, stands a pa, a fort site.  One of the best things to do in Mount Maunganui is hiking the summit of The Mount. If you climb up one of the tracks leading to its summit, you can see the remains of trenches in the flanks of this extinct volcano.  More importantly, you get to see the stunning view: Mount Maunganui, known locally as The Mount, dominates the shoreline and separates two long beaches which form a sand bar.  The inner harbour side is sheltered but to the ocean side, the waves are stronger and thus perfect for surfing.

Surfers’ paradise

To help nature do her thing, an artificial reef has been installed a quarter of a kilometre offshore.  As it sits 400 metres below low tide, it can’t be seen, but stealthily, it does the job of producing consistently excellent waves – fast peeling, tubing, right-handers and left-handers.  The area’s great for experienced surfers, and has plenty of surf schools for those that can’t claim to be an expert just yet. Surfing is definitely one of the best things to do in Mount Maunganui.

Things to do in Mount Maunganui: Surf Beach
Surf Beach

Beach life

Beach bumming, of course, easily made it to my top things to do in Mount Maunganui.

If surfing’s not your thing, The Mount’s shoreline is packed with cafes and restaurants. There are also hotels in Mount Maunganui or Tauranga nearby if you prefer to stay a night or two.  The busiest section is closer to Mauao, where it’s easiest to arrange a boat that will take you out for diving, big game fishing or dolphin spotting in the Bay of Plenty.  If the water’s too cold, there’s even some naturally heated salt water pools, making it a good place to visit whatever the weather.  Whether you want to walk your dog, go for a jog or simply take a stroll, this area of Tauranga pretty much has it all.

Have you been to Mt Maunganui. If so please tell us about your top things to do in Mount Maunganui!

About JuliaHammond

Website: http://www.juliahammond.co.uk

Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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