For anyone visiting the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, any trip to the region would be incomplete without making it to the top of Mount Maunganui in Tauranga.
Not only are the panoramic views stunning, but it’s also a part of the local culture and a reflection of how the surrounding nature has influenced the lifestyles of the people that live there.
Most locals worth their salt will complete the short but tough ascent at least once a week. For the fitness fanatics in the area, a morning routine will include running up 232m to the summit before heading back down to get ready for work.
The elevation may not sound impressive to mountain hikers and climbers, but when setting off from sea level, the incline is actually quite steep. Throw in summer humidity and it’s a decent workout to get the blood pumping.
Reaching the Summit
The trail starts at the base of Mount Maunganui (known as the Mount) in front of the Surf Life Saving Club on the beachfront boardwalk.
The first part includes a section of steps that winds past grazing sheep, followed by a straight path before reaching a crossroads. This gives walkers and runners the option of taking the quicker but steeper route with steps on the left, or gradually winding up the Mount on the step-free path on the right.
Although the left route may seem tough, it’s more enjoyable as the path takes people through sub-tropical bush with views across Main Beach. Plus, it only takes 40 minutes to reach the top (or less depending on fitness), whereas the other route can take up to an hour.
If reaching the summit on a clear day, the views of the ocean and across to Matakana Island will make all the hard work worthwhile. Be sure to take a camera, plus water to rehydrate at the top. For the walk down, it’s nice to take the other route and gently wind down on the opposite side of the Mount for an alternative view.
Mount Maunganui Cafe Scene
Now for the best part – a post-workout cafe and breakfast at one of Mount Maunganui’s many cafes.
For a real Mount Maunganui experience, take a seat on the patio at one of several cafes overlooking Main Beach where you can enjoy a coffee while watching the surfers. Deckchair is a popular spot and serves delicious savoury muffins with roasted vegetable and feta cheese. It’s also the largest cafe on the beachfront, but expect to wait for a table during busy times.
If you want to check out the hub of Mount Maunganui, then head downtown for my personal favourite, Cafe 88. The Energiser Breakfast is perfect for refuelling, and their sheltered courtyard is lined with plants and artwork. After years of visiting Mount Maunganui, Cafe 88 never fails to impress and is my go-to cafe every time.
Have you visited Mount Maunganui? Comment below with any other suggestions.