Mauao - Mount Maunganui

New Zealand's best beach

Mount Maunganui is a holiday paradise – surf, swim, play golf, shop, dine or simply relax and soak up the atmosphere.

Mount Maunganui, commonly referred to as “the Mount” is almost surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, with New Zealand’s best beach on one side of its peninsula, and the sheltered waters of Pilot Bay on the other.

And overlooking it all towers the mountain itself – Mauao. 

Standing 232m above sea level, this iconic landmark is treasured by Maori and locals alike. Mauao means ‘caught by the morning sun’ and the mountain is steeped in Maori history and mythology. The historic reserve represents the physical remains of approximately 1000 years of human occupation. Several historical pa sites (villages) have been built on this extinct volcanic cone, the evidence of which can still be seen today as you explore the popular walking tracks, which are used by over a million people each year. The reserve has natural springs, nesting birds, native coastal forest and a flock of sheep who graze on the cleared pastures. Rock climbers and paragliders are common sights on the mountain. On the 45 minute walk along the well maintained 3.4km base track you will experience expansive ocean views, majestic pohutukawa trees, rock pools, beach inlets.

Of course you’ll find the best views right at the top. There are several tracks to Mauao’s summit where you can enjoy breath taking 360° views along the entire Bay of Plenty coastline, and out across the harbour to Tauranga and the Kaimai Range beyond. 



(Caught by the morning sun)

Mauao means “caught by the morning sun”.  This is the story of how Mauao got his name.

There were once three mountains that lived in the Hautere forest overlooking Tauranga Moana. One was Otanewainuku who still stands there today adorned with the tallest trees and beautiful birds.  There was also the female mountain Puwhenua, a beautiful hill, clothed in the finest ferns, shrubs and trees of the forest of Tane.  The other was a maunga pononga or a nameless mountain.

The nameless mountain was desperately in love with Puwhenua.  However, her heart already belonged to Otanewainuku.  There seemed like no hope for the nameless one who decided to end it all by drowning himself in the Pacific Ocean, Te Moananui a Kiwa.

Calling on the patupaiarehe, the people with magical powers, the nameless one asked them to plait a magical rope and then haul him down towards the ocean.  Chanting, they began to haul the nameless one slowly towards the sea, gouging out the valley where the Waimapu River now flows.  Waimapu means ‘weeping waters’ and is so named after this journey to the sea.  The path also created the channel which flows past Tauranga City out to the ocean.

By the time they reached the ocean it was very close to day break.  The sun rose fixing the nameless one to that place.  Being people of the night, the patupaiarehe fled back to the shady depths of forests but not before giving the name Mauao to this mountain which marks the entrance of Tauranga Moana.


From Beach to Boutiques



Located on the harbour’s edge, Pilot Bay offers sheltered swimming conditions – ideal for young families and those who love water sports. Kayaks and other water sports equipment are available for hire right on the shore. A wooden boardwalk runs the full length of Pilot Bay.

A boat ramp and limited parking for boat trailers is available down the Mauao end. A great place for a picnic dinner (there are plenty of picnic tables and barbeques), walk or to watch cruise ships come and go. Picnic on the foreshore and watch the cruise ships leave our beautiful Mount Maunganui – the tourists love to see the people on the shore.

The cruise ship season is from October to April.




Voted New Zealand’s best beach, Mount Maunganui (lovingly called ‘the Mount’) is the ultimate summer destination or Mount Maunganui is a great place for permanent living . With perfect white sand and thundering waves, you won’t find a better place to swim, surf, sunbathe and socialise. Visitors have ranked Mount Maunganui the second best beach in the South Pacific and among the top 25 beaches in the world according to Trip Advisor.

Sea temperatures can reach 21°C or more in summer, conditions are generally safe but waves can occasionally be rough and rips can form – look for the flags of The Mount Maunganui surf lifeguards. (surf lifeguards can be found further down the beach as well at Omanu Beach). Numerous beach, ocean and multisport events are held here and people of all ages enjoy the Main Beach year-round with impromptu and organised games of beach volleyball, soccer, cricket and more. The very popular National and regional surf lifesaving competitions are held on Mount Maunganui beach in summer.

Car parking is available right along the beach, public toilets can be found at Mt Drury Reserve opposite Moturiki (Leisure) Island, and a popular boardwalk runs the full length (approximately 1km) of Mount Maunganui Beach up behind the sand dunes.



Moturiki is connected to the beach by a man-made land bridge and features a spectacular blowhole at the far end of the island which bursts into life during a large swell or high tide. A well-formed walking track will lead you from the beach right to the very top and takes about 15 minutes.



Soak in the warm healing water to help relieve any aches and pains. The children’s pool and slide area makes it a great family-friendly outing. The water temperature varies from 32 degrees celsius in the toddlers pool to 40 degrees in the private spas. As the pools are close to most accomodation they are within walking distance, but there is a small on site parking area available. Public transport is just outside the entry area.  The pools are situated about half way between Main Beach and Pilot Bay.

Luxurious massage is available if you prefer not to swim.


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From Beach to Boutiques & Other Bits



This relaxed, yet vibrant, boutique shopping strip is lined with phoenix palm trees and is home to some of the best local, national and international designer fashion, souvenirs, beauty salons, cafes, restaurants and contemporary and fine art in the area.

Mount Maunganui – The Mount – exudes a laidback atmosphere and unlike other shopping destinations in New Zealand, there’s no pressure to dress up here. Stroll around in whatever clothing you feel comfortable in, then kick off your jandals and try on an evening gown and killer heels.

Free parking is available on either side of Maunganui Rd but time restrictions do apply. Choose a table at any number of beachside cafes and restaurants. This relaxed al-fresco dining precinct is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast, brunch or lunch in the sunshine.



THE FARMERS MARKET – Every Sunday 9am to 1pm Rain or Shine!

LITTLE BIG MARKETS -Every 1st Saturday of the month 9.00am to 2pm in the summer months only.



All types of international cuisine is available from fine-dining menus to family friendly fare along with the best wines and craft beer available. Eat on the go or enjoy a leisurely lunch with a wide range of delicious inexpensive food. Take away food can be consumed on the fore shore of either beach. Alcohol is prohibited in public areas.



Visitors can choose a half-day or full day charter adventure to swim with dolphins, whales, seals and other marine wildlife, fishing, diving or scenic harbour cruises – visitors can tailor their own charters. Kayak around the harbour, the marine reserve or night time kayaking through glow-worm caves.




Set in peaceful tree-lined surroundings, only minutes from one of the country’s most popular surf beaches, Mount Golf’s 18 hole premier golf course is the perfect setting for golfers of all levels. Visitors and casual golfers are always welcome.


The Omanu Golf Club has built a reputation as the “Bays Best Golfing Experience” and offers a very high standard course – described as like a parkland, fairways are mostly flat, is playable for all levels of golf – visitors and casuals are welcome.


Bay Oval hosts international and national cricket games and the recently added lights allows for some cricket games to continue into the evening.  There are numerous games of cricket during the Christmas holiday period.


Mount Maunganui’s undercover shopping mall is situated on the corner of Maunganui Rd and Girven Rd approx 6kms from downtown Mount Maunganui. There is an undercover 3 level carpark or public transport is available on either side of the mall.

After 30 years of shopping the Bayfair Mall is expanding. On completion of this expansion in 2019, Bayfair will have around 150 stores. The majority of the expansion is targeted to open late 2018 with the final stage (cinema) anticipated for completion in late 2019.

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