316 Days on the Road
It has to be done, right? When you arrive at a place as beach-side-beautiful as Mt Maunganui and there is a huge vantage point on your doorstep, it has to be climbed! We’re wasting no time to do probably the “must-do” free activity in the Mt Maunganui/Tauranga area. We are going to climb the Mauao a.k.a The Mount!
The suburb of Mt Maunganui
After doing some work and catching up on necessary chores (laundry – wahoo!) in the beach-themed hostel, Pacific Coast Lodge, we hit the bustling streets of Mt Maunganui and follow the green-topped hill of the The Mount. (No GPS required – just follow your eyes). Although Mt Maunganui is only really considered a suburb of Tauranga, it’s a vibrant hub in itself. We pass streets and streets of shops on our way to The Mount and we have already seen how much is happening in the suburb on our hostel’s noticeboard. All will be explored in good time.
The climb up the mount begins!
A boardwalk alongside the beach leads to clear signage of the Mauao Reserve and the start of the walking tracks. There appears to be quite a few different routes around the mountain, but we don’t put too much thought into our route choices other than “up”!
The lower half of the extinct volcano is carpeted in grassy farmland with the very bottom lined with pohutukawa trees – a native tree found on coastal areas with branches that wind out of control. They also bloom red flowers around December making them the “New Zealand Christmas Tree”.
Rabbits, birds and the views start rolling in
It’s a steady climb to begin with on this lower part of the mountain. Rabbits and black birds hop nearby our feet, not seeming bothered whatsoever by the regular person jogging by. In cities, people always seem to flock to one place to run, and it’s very obvious that The Mount is that place in Tauranga!
Even before we have gained any real height on The Mount, terraces off the track provide awesome vantage points of Mt Maunganui’s long-stretching white sand beach. From here, we can watch people paddle-boarding around a rocky island and boats creating patterns on the water. It’s like a taster of all the activities to come for us in the next few days.
Difficult or moderate?
We soon come a split in the track with the quick but “difficult” climb to the summit, or the longer but “moderate” walk to the summit. Laura is leading Robin straight onto the moderate track because we is not ready for anymore intense climbs after having done the Tongariro Crossing and the Timber Trail in the last few days. However, we also like to think that the “moderate” route has to be the scenic!
Nowhere near the top but still soaking in the views and the rays
cliffs and ocean views
The track circumvents the perimeter of The Mount below huge rocky cliffs occupied by pigeons. We stop a couple of times when a native fantail, a bird with some acrobatic skills thanks to its fan-like tail, nearly flies into our face. We also have some pretty epic views out to the Pacific Ocean. We see the silhouette of an offshore island, more boats carving wake patterns in the water, and a long beach backed with pine forest which seems to have no end in sight.
A quick delve into the forest
The track then takes us into native forest, a complete contrast to the grassy farmlands we were on before. We can hear the warbling noises of the native tui bird filling this section of forest, but the dark metallic blue and black birds blend in too well with the shade of the canopy.
The final push to epic vistas
The final uphill struggle brings us to an exposed mountaintop with low vegetation revealing a whole lot of views. Benches are here, there and everywhere to pick our spot, whether it’s to gaze out into the ocean, overlook the urban jungle of Tauranga from across the harbour, or oversee the long sandspit below of Mt Maunganui wedged between a beach and a harbour.
We get our obligatory pictures by finding a perfect “hidden” spot down a gnarly-looking set of muddy stairs to a rocky outcrop facing Mt Maunganui – a place where you don’t want to get too close to the edge.
Back along Mt Maunganui Beach
Photos taken, we start making our way back down the “steep” but short route where we are glad of our choice of scenic route on the way up. (However, at least the uphill struggles would have been over quicker on the steep side). Anyway, we practically skip with ease all the way down where we then decide to make use of that beach that has been prominent in the views from The Mount almost the entire time. We walk from the pohutukawa tree and rocky part of the beach near The Mount along a more pristine section of just white sand and the odd sunbather to step over. A rocky island divides the beach where, word on the street is that you can walk along it at low tide and watch the blowholes at the other end at low tide!
Until we check it our for ourselves, probably by paddle-board in the near future, we head off to do some grocery shopping before rush-hour hits. And that’s where we’ll stop this blog post before we bore you with the details of that. Check in with us in the next couple of days where we go to McLaren Falls and do a kayaking tour across Lake McLaren to a galaxy of glowworms. See you tomorrow!
Overlooking the glistening Pacific Ocean
That’s awesome! If you liked this blog post, maybe you’ll like these articles:
- Tauranga and Mt Maunganui – Guide for Backpackers
- 22 Stunning Beaches in New Zealand
- Accommodation Guide to Tauranga
See you tomorrow!