The PiwiWiwi crew had a couple of reasons to head over to Mount Maunganui: Niall had promised more help with the ‘Rena’ oilspill cleanup; we had a car to collect and Anna hadn’t left Raglan for a week or so & needed a break. We’d heard a lot about ‘The Mount’. People seem to love it, but to us it always sounded too built-up for our tastes.
Approaching from the industrial estates of New Zealand’s largest port – Tauranga – you see Mauao (The name for the mount in Te Reo – the Maori language) & begin to feel that this is somewhere special. The campground‘s slightly more expensive than most in New Zealand but it’s worth it. At the back of our van was an unbroken view of white sand and turquoise ocean, with a tiny swell giving a tease of how good the surf can get here. To the front was Mauao, 232m straight out of that ocean. Stunning! With no surf to be ridden (the Coromandel was working perfectly, we just had commitments here) we walk up Mauao dodging fitness fanatics of all ages running up & down the mount. The view from the top is fantastic. To the South is the city, to the North nothing but beach & forest. East is The Pacific, West a collection of islands & inlets with the sun setting through clouds & the water a polished steel.
After taking all this in we trot back down & spoil ourselves with a succulent Turkish kebab on the beach (oh & dolma to start, baclava to finish) then head back to our PiwiWiwi van.
After a fine night’s sleep (we always sleep brilliantly in our vans!) we’re off to work – Niall on a boat over to Motiti island & Anna back to the PiwiWiwi office.
It was only a one-night affair but we liked The Mount. Very different to the New Zealand we know & love, being built up & busy, but very much the same with its breath-taking & varied natural beauty.