Tauranga, Bay of Plenty is home to two famous natural attractions – Mount Maunganui (Mauao) and Main Beach. The Mount is an iconic landmark that offers a spectacular view of the entire Western Bay of Plenty, whereas Main Beach is voted as New Zealand’s best beach for a very good reason.
Another worthy sight is the picturesque Pilot Bay Beach which runs along the southwestern side of Mount Maunganui’s peninsula and is sheltered from the open ocean. So, one beautiful weekend, I happily hopped on a Baybus a.k.a Bayhopper bus from the city centre to Mount Maunganui. 😀
Taking the Baybus a.k.a Bayhopper Bus from Tauranga City Centre to Mount Maunganui
It is easy and convenient to get to Mount Maunganui by bus from Tauranga city centre. The bus stop is located on Willow Street, in front of the Tauranga Art Gallery and the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre.
Bus number 1 and 2 takes passengers to/from Mount Maunganui. An adult single journey ticket is $3.20. With a Smartride card, an adult single journey ticket is $2.52. If you are planning to travel to many places in a day around the city, then an adult Bayhopper Tauranga Day Saver ticket (priced at $7.80) will help you save money because it grants you an unlimited number of bus rides within a day. 🙂
The bus tickets and cards can be bought through the bus driver on the bus. The scenic bus ride to Mount Maunganui, Tauranga was quick and enjoyable. The entire journey took about 15-20 minutes depending on the traffic.
Pilot Bay Beach – The Spot to Watch the South Island Seals
The bus dropped me off at a bus stop located in front of Pilot Bay Beach, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga. For your info, Pilot Bay Beach is a picturesque sheltered beach that sits on the edge of Tauranga Harbour and beneath Mount Maunganui’s towering mountain, Mauao.
It is a beautiful place to relax in the sun, have a picnic or barbecue, enjoy the harbour views and watch the world go by. 🙂 As I made my way towards the Mount (Mauao), I took my time to enjoy the view as I strolled along the wooden boardwalk.
Pilot Bay Beach and its surrounding area also happen to be the spot where the South Island seals hangout during winter. They are most often seen playing in the water or sleeping on the rocks and visitors are advised to watch the seals and take photos from a safe distance.
Mount Maunganui’s (Mauao) 4WD Track
I did not do a research on Mount Maunganui, Tauranga before I embarked on my journey to the Mount (Mauao). Because of that, I lost my way trying to locate the base of the Mount where I should start the summit walk up the Mount (Mauao) and that was when I stumbled upon the 4WD track at Mount Maunganui.
The 4WD track starts at the end of Pilot Bay Beach and vehicles are not allowed up the track except for maintenance and emergency purposes only. However, visitors can use this alternative track to walk to the summit. Please bear in mind that this particular track requires visitors to negotiate the steep shingle road to reach the very top of the Mount (Mauao).
Thankfully, I met several helpful joggers who gave me the directions to the starting point of the walking track located on the ocean side of the base track (at Main Beach). Before I left the 4WD track, I managed to explore the surrounding area and saw several sheep grazing peacefully on the mountainside. I even spotted several rabbits too! 😀
Up next: Mount Maunganui (Mauao) Summit Walk & picturesque Bay of Plenty