Mauao: the Best Day Hike in Tauranga New Zealand
It’s officially summer here in New Zealand. Being from California I am used to summer type days in December, but it’s still strange to see Christmas decorations in stores next to summer merchandise. It’s interesting because most of the Christmas carols being played in the stores are still “dreaming of a white Christmas” type songs which has to be seriously confusing to Kiwi and Ozzie kids.
The good thing about summer here in the Bay of Plenty is the welcoming of more sunny days and the start of the summer surf season. Cyclones in the Pacific start sending swells in this direction and I am happy to report the last 5 days we have seen consistent surf days. Actually as I am typing this, Tyler is passed out on the couch from 6 days of surfing straight. It looks like there is going to be about a weeks worth of lull starting tomorrow so his arms will get to recover.
When the waves are flat we have to find other ways of entertaining ourselves, which usually involve hiking, fishing, or some sort of flying fox or abseiling. One of the hikes we do time and time again is hiking the Mount or Mauao.
Mauao, meaning caught by the morning sun, is at the base of the Tauranga harbor and at the end of the Mount Maunganui beach stretch. The legend of Mauao is quite interesting, involving a mountain falling in love with another mountain and getting its heart broken. The mountain decided there was no hope and wanted to drown itself in the Pacific ocean. It was being dragged out to sea by the patupaiarehe, the people with magical powers, when it was stopped by the morning sun. If you want to read the full story on Mauao you can read about it HERE.
With 360 degree views of the ocean, hiking the mount is a easy way to pass a afternoon and get a great workout. On a good day you get the prettiest views of surrounding New Zealand and the coast. Every turn you take on the Mauao track has another beautiful view of the coast, and on the weekends para gliders love taking off from the top and cruising down to the beach. Taking about 45 minutes to get up to the summit, it’s also a pretty quick hike so a lot of locals use it as a way to get a quick workout in after work. It can get quite busy but it still is worth it for the surrounding views. And (for Tyler especially) the icing on the cake is sheep roam freely over the mountain making for some up and close viewing of baby lambs in spring. I have yet to do the hike during sunrise but I hear it’s absolutely beautiful. While there are a ton of absolutely breathtaking water fall and river hikes you can do just a short car ride away, the way the mount has you seeing the ocean the entire way up to the top is what makes Mauao the best day hike in Tauranga.
Photo Credit to Teara.Gov for the above photo.