Mount Manganui, affectionally known as 'The Mount' by locals, is one of the country's most popular holiday destinations and is often visited by foreign cruise ships.
The magnificent Mauao (Mount Manganui), standing 232m (761ft) tall, dominates the region.
On one side of the Mount, on the harbour's edge, you have Pilot Bay which offers sheltered swimming conditions and a variety of water sports options. On the other side you have the main beach with miles of white sand and often good surf.
Walk around the Mount
A must-do is the 3.4km (2.1 mile) walk around the picturesque base track of the Mount which is dotted with boulders, pohutukawa trees and other native flora and fauna. If you are more adventurous, and have a lot more energy, follow one of the tracks up to the top of the mountain where you will have stunning views of the region. (Note: I climbed to the top of the Mount at dawn so I could see the sunrise on my last day in New Zealand before traveling the world). Look out for the bronze statue of Tangaroa, the God of the sea, at the entrance to the harbour. The walk will take you around 45 minutes. There are public toilets at the start of the track at Pilot Bay and also in front of the surf lifesaving club on the beachfront. (See the map below)
Moturiki - Leisure Island
Just along from Mauao on Mount Maunganui's main beach, you will a small island barely connected to the main land. Known as Leisure Island or Moturiki, in the past is was a Maori Pa (fortified village). It has been a quarry (from 1911-1923), an aquarium called Marineland (opened 1966) and then a tourist attraction called Leisure Island (from 1981-1990). This last attraction is why it is still locally called 'Leisure Island'. Now the island is back to its natural state (no signs of its past) and it is a protected reserve. There is a track to the end of the island where you can sometimes see a blowhole in action at hightide.
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