On the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island lies one of the best coastal cities: Mount Maunganui.
Flanked by golden sandy beaches, azure water and the always-green volcanic mountain that gives the city its name, Mount Maunganui is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful developed areas.
While it’s technically a suburb of New Zealand’s 5th most populous city (Tauranga), Mount Maunganui has more chilled-out beach town vibes than your typical bustling city. In the summer months, you’ll find lots of people in the Mount, but most of those people will be in flip-flops, shorts, or swimsuits—it’s a relaxed place, and you can go from the beach to dinner without a worry.
Whether you’re looking to surf, hike, eat great food, or simply relax on the beach, Mount Maunganui has all these activities to offer and more.
In this guide we’re sharing some of the best things to do in Mount Maunganui!
How to get to Mount Maunganui
Mount Maunganui is a 3 hour drive from Auckland, and driving is probably the best and easiest way to get there. Another option would be to fly into the Tauranga airport, which is about a 15 minute drive from Mount Maunganui.
Where to Stay in Mount Maunganui
We love to stay at the Mission Belle Motel—in our opinion, it’s the best hotel in the Mount! It’s in an excellent location and the rooms are clean and modern. The owners are lovely and make you feel right at home.
For a more budget-friendly option, you can camp right at the base of the Mount at Mount Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park. You can pitch a tent, park your campervan, or stay in one of the on-site basic cabins or caravans.
Things to do in Mount Maunganui
Hike up Mount Maunganui (aka “Mauao”)
Take the Summit Track to the top of Mount Maunganui. While this is a great hike any time of day, sunrise is the ultimate time to go. It takes about 30-40 minutes of strenuous walking to get to the summit, but it’s well worth it. Set your alarm and go out early for an excellent start to the day; bring your camera for epic sunrise photos at the top.
Hike around Mount Maunganui
Start at Pilot Bay and go clockwise around the Mount Maunganui Base Track that circles the base of the mountain. You’ll walk past beautiful ocean views and the walking is fairly easy with just a bit of hilliness. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the loop. Towards the end of the walk, you’ll come across beachy coves that are absolutely covered in shells and are well worth exploring.
Walk out to Leisure Island (Moturiki)
Leisure Island was once a Maori Pa and then later became home to an aquarium and swimming pools. It’s now been restored back to its natural state and is a nice place for a quick walk with beautiful views of the coastline. You can access the island via a walkway from the Mount’s Main Beach.
Chill out at Mount Drury Reserve
The grass terraces on the northeastern side of Mount Drury make for an excellent spot to relax with a book or picnic.
Go for a swim or surf at the beach
Strong swimmers (and surfers) will want to head for the main Mount beach, but if you want more of a calm swimming experience, or if you have kids in tow, head over to Pilot Bay for a riptide-free ocean dip.
Soak in the Mount Hot Pools
The Mount Hot Pools are fantastic! Situated at the base of the Mount, they feature heated saltwater and are truly relaxing. We like to go for a soak after hiking the Mount in the morning, or in the evening under the stars.
Scope out Mount Maunganui’s street art
There is so much awesome street art in Tauranga, and the Mount has some really cool ones to check out. You could go for a walk around town to tour some of the street art the city has to offer—you can use this map as a guide.
Where to Shop in the Mount
This lovely shop is full of curated goods from NZ and beyond. Everything in the store is beautiful! Treat yourself with something special, like a cute travel cosmetics case, a portable-sized clay face mask, or a gorgeous beach towel.
Where to Eat and Drink in Mount Maunganui
This is our go-to brunch spot when we’re in the Mount! The have some healthy options and some more indulgent (and some a mixture of both). We can’t go past their Turkish eggs, which are perfectly poached and served with yoghurt, chili, crispy zucchini and toasty bread for dipping.
A popular spot right along the Mount’s main strip with to-die-for cakes and great brunch plates. If you go here, you must try their carrot cake—it’s divine. They have a nice little covered outdoor courtyard in the back that makes the perfect setting for a chilled-out brunch.
This lovely space is outside of the downtown area and split between a bakery and a brunch spot. Grab a yummy pastry and coffee from Elspeth’s while you wait for your food from Eddie’s.
Fancy a craft beer from a mind-bogglingly large menu? Want something carby and bite-sized to go with that beer? Head on over to the Rising Tide—they serve up a fantastic range of house and other NZ-brewed beers and yummy dumplings to go with: a match made in doughy, hoppy heaven. On our last visit, they had an agave and kiwifruit sour beer served in a cold glass with a salted rim—so good. We also happened to visit on a Monday, when they had an all-evening happy hour with $5.50 pints of their house-brewed beers and deals on dumplings.
Delicious Japanese food with a slight South American twist. They serve up creative and filling sushi rolls—our favourite is the Citrus Roll, filled with prawn, avocado and cream cheese, and topped with salmon and thin slices of lime.
A hip and colourful burger joint with hearty food on offer.
Yummy, authentic Vietnamese food in a fun and vibrant setting. Favorites include their prawn & coconut fried rice and chicken noodle salad. Make sure to grab one of their excellent cocktails to go with your meal!
Seafood is the main star of the show at this spot, and it’s executed beautifully. Try the steamed mussels with white wine and pancetta, or the seafood marinara spaghetti. They have a good wine list as well.
Fresh, flavourful Thai food with plenty of delicious seafood options, such as red curry scallops with pineapple, and prawn Pad Thai. Dine-in or choose from their takeaway menu.
We hope this travel guide has given you some ideas to help you plan your own trip to the Mount. There are so many things to do in Mount Maunganui and we think it would make for an excellent stop along your North Island itinerary.
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MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION
If you’re heading to Rotorua before or after the Mount, read our writeup to some Awesome Hot Springs in Rotorua and Taupo.
For a magical day trip close to Mount Maunganui, you’ll want to check out our guide outlining a day trip to Hobbiton and Blue Springs!