If you are lucky enough to be travelling around New Zealand, I highly recommend a stop-off at Mount Maunganui, in the province of Bay of Plenty, a roughly 2.5 hour drive south-east from Auckland (or you can fly directly from Auckland in about 30 minutes).
The Mount, as its most commonly known amongst locals, is a relatively small oceanside town, although my husband, having grown up the proud Mount native, can’t believe how it’s taken off in recent years.
Why has it grown? Because it’s so bloody great! Its liveability is off the scale. It’s small, but still has all the amenities you need, it has retained its charm, and the long stretches of coastline. Sometimes you’d be the only one on it – over winter especially – and the stunning view from the top of the extinct volcano that dominates the landscape is quite spectacular. Aucklanders have been moving there in their droves (not sure that’s a good thing!).
There is something magical about this place. The people are friendly, the food is delicious (they have some incredibly cool cafes, a culture I might add that harks back to one of the very first vegetarian cafes in the 90’s – owned by my husband’s family) and most of all, it’s not over-crowded (despite what the hub thinks). I mean we’ve come from Sydney, it feels like a small island paradise to us.
We’ve been here all months of the year, but my favourite month to visit is February. The water is incredibly warm, the beaches are mostly deserted, as everyone is back at school, university or work, accommodation is easy to get, getting around is no problem at all and getting a park if needed, is not an issue – and parking is free!
Our usual day at The Mount involves a walk around the base track of the distinctive volcanic cone at the end of the peninsula, then up the 232m summit. I can get up and back down easily within an hour and a quarter, but if you want to take it slowly, make an afternoon or morning of it. Just make sure you take water and be prepared for some steep parts – but mostly it’s an easy walk/climb with the most breathtaking harbour and ocean views.
After our climb we head for a much-needed coffee and snack. Your choices are endless. I like Wild One wholefood (my god, the slices are sensational!) and the coffee is good.
We then head to the beach and spend the afternoon swimming, followed by a Kiwi classic of fish and chips at the beach for dinner and then head back home for a craft beer and a glass of NZ Pinot Gris (some of the best in the world). A day well spent.
I’ve only touched on what you can get up to in this little slice of Kiwi paradise, because there’s so much more, but for me, I head here for some timeout, long beach walks, friendly people and plenty of fresh air.
Nothing beats a good ol’ Kiwi break. I always leave feeling refreshed and looking forward to coming back.
Click here for more info. Main image: Guillaume Calmelet ~ Skydive Tauranga.