So you’re planning your ultimate vacation to little ol’ New Zealand. You’ve heard about the skiing in Queenstown, the glaciers in Milford Sound, the cultural capital that is Wellington, and undoubtedly, the “Lord of The Rings” Hobbiton tour in Matamata. But the one place that you definitely need to have on your list, is the beautiful beach cove, Mount Maunganui.
Why Mount Maunganui?
If the pictures alone don’t make you want to hop right on a plane headed straight for this beachside town, allow me to introduce you to some of the best things that The Mount – as it’s referred to by locals – has to offer.
Mount Maunganui is a gorgeous peninsula with a calm bay on one side (Pilot Bay), and a bustling surf beach on the other (Main Beach). The gorgeous Main Beach with it’s white sand and deep blue waves took the crown for “The Best Beach in New Zealand” and is currently ranked one of the top 25 beaches in the world by TripAdvisor. There is something for everyone – surfing, sunbathing, kayaking, water-sports, and even the annual sandcastle competition in summer. If you’re someone who likes to just relax on the sand, there’s no need to worry; the main beach is so long that you’ll always be able to find a quiet spot to lay back.
Fish and Chips
Every kiwi has experienced the classic fish and chips dinner on the beach, and as New Zealand is home to some of the best fish in the world, you can’t go wrong with trying it out for yourself. Just a few streets across from the Main Beach lies Maunganui Road, home to some of the best restaurants and bars in the area. But the best place to get fish and chips, in my opinion, is Mount Fish & Chips. Here you can choose different items from the menu, or select any of the dinner packages, featuring potato fritters, battered sausages, deep fried chocolate bars, and of course, fish and chips. Once you receive your package wrapped in newspaper, just head back to the beach and dig in; no pun intended.
Leisure Island (Moturiki)
This island was once home to a water park with pools and hydro slides, but since closing in 1990 it has reverted back to its natural bush. However this island still makes for a beautiful walk, and is actually connected to the Main Beach by a man made land bridge. The walking track takes you to the end of the island, where there is a cliff known as the “blowhole”, known for shooting jets of water into the sky. You might even see a few brave locals jumping off the edge into the water below, though I wouldn’t recommend trying this out for yourself!
An extinct volcano at the very tip of the peninsula. Mauao – or “The Mount” as its colloquially referred to, has multiple different hiking tracks. In 2008 and 2009 it was named one of New Zealand’s most popular costal walking tracks, with around 936,000 people walking around the base track of the mountain. You can also hike up to the top, at 232 metres above sea level, for a spectacular view of the entire peninsula. The Mount is a hugely popular track for not only tourists, but locals too, with many using it as a daily form of exercise. It takes roughly half an hour to get to the top, and the scenery and friendly sheep you encounter on the way up makes for some great photos.
Salt Water Hot Pools
At the base of Mauao sits the Mount Hot Pools, the perfect place to relax after your treck up Mauao. As the only salt water hot pools in New Zealand, the Mount Hot Pools is a popular destination for anyone wanting a relaxing soak or a fun family outing. There are two main pools; the active pool, and the warmer passive pool, as well as two adult-only jacuzzis and a children’s pool featuring a water slide. If you’re after more of a pampering, they also offer massages and private pools where you can unwind away from the noise. With around 300,000 visitors a year, these hot pools are definitely a must-do!
For the super adventurous, look no further than The Mount itself for an incredible hang gliding experience. All you’ve gotta do is make the trek to the top, and then enjoy the view as you soar above the coastline.
Cafe and Restaurants
For Insta worthy mason jar smoothies and a wide range of mouth watering baked goods, the place to be is Eighty Eight Cafe. With an inside area decorated to look like you’re sitting in a cozy alleyway, and super friendly staff, the only difficult thing will be deciding which of the delicious menu items to get!
If you’re after breakfast or lunch overlooking the beach, Deckchair Cafe is a good bet for great food and superb coffee. They also offer an all-day breakfast and are renowned for their selection of scones (make sure you try the date one!)
One of my personal favourites for dinner is The Pizza Library. The inside of the restaurant is decorated to look like an old fashioned library, and all of the pizzas are named after classic novels. If that’s not enough to convince you, the food is also amazing; enormous thin crust pizzas that can be shared among four people, and they also have outdoor seating with fire heaters and blankets available if you get cold.
No one can visit The Mount without stopping for ice-cream at the iconic Copenhagen Cones. You can smell the delicious waffle cones cooking from down the street, and you can bet there will always be a line out the door on hot summer days. But don’t be put off by the line, these ice-creams are something you do not want to miss out on!
So, Why Not?
As you can see, Mount Maunganui is a beautiful, exciting destination that should definitely be on everyone’s list when visiting New Zealand. The only question now is: what’s stopping you?