An unforgettable activity I did in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty was to climb Mount Maunganui’s iconic mountain, Mauao and enjoy a breathtaking 360° view (literally and figuratively speaking!) of the entire Bay of Plenty coastline at 232m above sea level. 😀
Mind you, the journey up Mount Maunganui’s Mauao summit was not an easy task! I actually underestimated the level of difficulty of the summit walk and was huffing and puffing all the way up the mountain – no kidding!
Iconic Mount Maunganui (Mauao)
Mount Maunganui’s Mauao is a famous landmark and natural attraction in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty. The word Mauao itself means “caught be the dawn” and plenty of people, both local and tourists alike enjoy climbing up the Mount’s summit to watch the sunrise or sunset.
The mount offers a scenic walk through native bush and majestic pohutukawa trees with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the picturesque Bay of Plenty coastline, Tauranga city and harbour as well as the scenic Kaimai Range. It is an experience that every visitor will remember for life.
Several historical pa sites (villages) have been built on this extinct volcanic cone, with remnants that can still be seen today as visitors explore the popular walking tracks. A wide variety of native flora and fauna can be observed along the walking tracks.
Mount Maunganui (Mauao) Summit Walk – The Base Track
There are several tracks to Mount Maunganui (Mauao)’s summit. The two most popular tracks are the Oruahine and Waikorire Tracks. Both tracks start from the ocean side of the Base Track. The Base Track which circles around the mount begins at the end of the boardwalk, past the surf club on Main Beach.
For your info, the mount’s base track is about 3.4 km long and it takes about 45 minutes to complete the entire scenic track. The summit climb begins a few metres from the end of the boardwalk, past the stone steps leading to the summit.
I decided to skip the base track and took a shortcut to the summit of Mount Maunganui (Mauao) in order to reach the summit and get back down before sundown, in time to catch the Baybus a.k.a Bayhopper bus back to the city centre.
Mount Maunganui (Mauao) Summit Walk – The Oruahine & Waikorire Tracks
The Oruahine Track takes visitors around the northern and western side of Mauao, offering magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and Matakana Island. This walking track eventually joins the 4WD track and visitors need to negotiate the steep shingle road to reach the very top of Mauao.
The Waikorire Track is the steepest path, with well-formed staircases winding up the eastern side of this extinct volcano. This particular track takes visitors to a section of lovely native bush located about two thirds of the way up where visitors can enjoy the rest of the walk to the top in the shade.
Both the Oruahine and Waikorire Track requires a reasonably good level of fitness, stamina and mobility to climb to the top of the mountain. As I said it before, for some reason gravity seems to be unforgiving in New Zealand which makes the climb more difficult. 😛
Please be aware that there are no toilets or rubbish bins on Mauao. Public toilets are available at Pilot Bay Beach and in front of the surf lifesaving club on Main Beach. It is our responsibility to take our rubbish away and keep the place clean.
Magical Moments at Mauao’s Summit & Beyond
Overall, I enjoyed the summit walk on Mount Maunganui’s iconic Mauao in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty. I did the Oruahine (on my way up) and Waikorire (on my way down) Tracks including a part of the 4WD Track (when I got lost at the beginning).
The most memorable part of the journey I would say was when I walked by the edge of the cliff overlooking the vast ocean and Matakana Island in the distance – it was a scary, but exhilarating experience! Another memorable moment was when I went down a narrow path by the mountainside to take a photo at the edge of a cliff.
Also, when people who are younger and even older than me zoomed past by without showing any signs of fatigue when I was huffing and puffing away throughout the entire journey. 😛 Haha!! Through the experience, I can conclude that Mount Maunganui’s iconic mountain, Mauao is indeed a beautiful, magical place.
Up next: Exploring Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach 😉