Wednesday 5 January 2022 – Whangamata, New Zealand.
Famous for its small peak, glorious beaches, great surf, and drunken New Year’s Eve violence, Mount Maunganui has been a must go summer holiday spot since the invention of beer cans* for any young New Zealander with the means to get there and beer to drink.
I’ve never been to ‘The Mount’ for the New Year festivities but I have visited on a number of occasions over the past 30 or so years. The last time was the middle of the noughties when I used to do day trips to the nearby Port of Tauranga for work. I left Auckland early enough in the morning to get there for a run round the Mount, a quick swim in Pilot Bay to cool down then in to the office before most of the local staff turned up. It was usually a good day out.
Pilot Bay is one of two beaches at the Mount and is on the inside of the small isthmus, with the main surf beach on the outside. It’s a great place for a quiet swim and is family friendly. Eleanor and I started the 45 minute walk around the Mount from here.
We were in Mount Maunganui for the afternoon visiting friends who recently moved into a home mid-way between the two beaches. It is a 2 ½ hour drive from where we’ve been staying in Whangamata. It was another brutally hot day so Eleanor and I were advised the best thing to do in the midday heat was to take the easy and reasonably shaded walk and experience some of the fabulous views and the sea breeze that whips round the point. We weren’t the only people making use of the breeze, though not all of them were on the ground.
Leaving Pilot Bay there is a short and gentle climb which is pretty much the extent of the uphill walking all the way round. There were a few walkers but nothing like the crowds that filled the main shopping street. This is a very popular tourist spot and it gets extremely crowded over the few days around Christmas and the New Year.
As you near the tip of the point the stunning view over the Pacific and the bush lined white sandy beaches on the other side of the fast running harbour entrance comes into view.
The view all the way around is magnificent and I took quite a few photos.
Three quarters of the way round the almost complete circular path is a great view down the surf beach towards Tauranga. Eleanor enjoyed the view as well.
As the circle came to a close there are some steps that start the path up to the top of the Mount, I ran/walked up there ages ago and it’s tough going. It would be brutal on a hot day like today as there isn’t much shade on the early section. I’m very glad** to be rather unfit at the moment, that and the heat were goods reason to not make the climb.
We had a cool down dip in Pilot Bay once we had finished the walk and then went for an enjoyable drink and early evening pizza with our friends before driving back to Whangamata. I’m not as comfortable driving as I used to be and was loathe to be driving on windy country roads in the dark, so was quite happy we made it back soon after I’d put the headlights on.
Another great day on this lovely little break we are having, though we head back to Auckland tomorrow. We may come back to Mount Maunganui and explore a bit more before we leave for London in seven weeks. We just have to see how timing works and what else we need to fit in, and time is disappearing quickly now.
* This may not actually be true.
** This is also not true, I’m not at all happy about being so unfit.