This long weekend I decided to join the legions of Aucklanders escaping the big city, and I jumped in my car and drove down to Mount Maunganui.
For Kiwis, this bustling beach-side paradise will need no introduction (you may skip ahead to my list of things to see and do here). For everyone else, Mount Maunganui is a coastal town in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, just a few minutes’ drive from Tauranga and a little under three hours from Auckland. Famed for its surf beach and iconic volcanic cone (which lends the town its name), it’s a playground for holiday makers and the more than 20,000 Kiwis who call it home.
I highly recommend you visit this thriving holiday hub and, while you’re there, you should check out these fun things to see and do.
Learn to surf
I visited Mount Maunganui in early Autumn, so there was no swimming in the sea for me. However, I have it on good authority (my little brother lives there) that it’s a great place to learn to surf.
Rock on up to the main beach and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a kiosk or van offering surf lessons. If you already know how to surf, you can hire a board in town for roughly $45 NZD for a couple of hours.
Stand up paddleboarding
Pilot Bay is the (usually) calm harbour beach on the inside edge of Mount Maunganui, which is the ideal place for paddleboarding.
You’ll usually spot paddleboarders of all skill levels in Pilot Bay, and, most times of year, you should have no trouble finding someone to give you a lesson or hire you a board along the main stretch. Just look out for the sandwich board or the stack of paddleboards on the beach’s shore. If you walk as far the Tauranga port, you’ve gone too far.
Climb ‘The Mount’
For beautiful views over the emerald blue of the Bay of Plenty and of the long stretch of sand that spans from Mount Maunganui to Papamoa and beyond, you should strap on your walking shoes and hike to the summit of the town’s iconic mountain.
At 232m (761 feet) above sea level, this (extinct) volcanic cone may be a mere pimple when compared to the likes of Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro, and New Zealand’s own Aoraki/Mount Cook, but it’ll still get the juices flowing. Allow at least 30 minutes to hike to the top.
Eating and drinking
Mount Maunganui has more than its fair share of great bars, pubs, restaurants, and cafes. I can recommend the Pizza Library, where you can munch delicious pizza out on old cinema seats, or the Turkish restaurant on the main drag will give you a huge plate of food for around $13.
If craft beer is what you’re after, then the Hop House has a great range; Mount Brewing Co. is super popular and brews its own beer; and the Mac’s brewbar on the main road is pretty decent (you’ve got to love its funky outdoor seating area).
For coffee, Tay Street Beach Café makes a wicked flat white.
Mount Hot Pools
It was raining on my second day in Mount Maunganui, but rather than sit around and mourn our misfortune, Mrs Man vs World and I went to Mount Hot Pools, where instead we sat around in blissful hot pools and celebrated our good fortune.
Situated at the base of The Mount, these hot pools are a perfectly relaxing place to waste a couple of hours. And they’re cheap, too: $10.80 NZD for adults, $8.10 for children (5-15yrs).