15 Jun New Zealand Holiday Destinations: Mount Maunganui Beach
The resort town of Mount Maunganui sits on a sandy peninsula,
with a pristine surf beach on one side, a beautiful blue harbour on the other, and an ancient volcano at the head. Come for the awesome beach vibe and summer sun… stay for the dining and shopping!
View from the summit of Mount Maunganui, which sits at the tip of the peninsula, dividing ocean from harbour, and after which this seaside destination is named. Image by Chris McLennan.
Whether you’re up for adventure or you’re a sunbathing-with-a-good-book kind of girl, you can do it all in Mount Maunganui. The small peninsula has a gorgeous surf beach on one side, and a calm harbour on the other. Spend the day swimming, picnicking and relaxing – just remember to pack your sunscreen, Mount Maunganui has one of the best ‘sunshine scores’ in New Zealand!
You can learn to surf with excellent, internationally-experienced instructors (they have special kids’ surfboards, too) or maybe give stand-up paddle boarding a go, it’s great fun.
Image with thanks to Hibiscus Surf School, Mount Maunganui’s best surf instructors
A day at the beach isn’t complete without an ice cream (and New Zealand is known for producing the world’s best and creamiest!). Visit the iconic Copenhagen Cones for a decadent honey-waffle cone with a scoop or two, or stop in at the surf-side gelato shop for a gourmet flavour.
Hot Pools & Spa
Nestled at the foot of the mountain, between the surf beach and harbour, is the Mount Hot Pools. This excellent facility features multiple pools or varying temperatures, including a shallower fun pool and slide for kids. You can also book a sublime private pool experience, or enjoy an excellent therapeutic massage after your hot soak.
A lovely spot to soak of an evening, with the stars of the Southern sky twinkling above
Explore ‘The Mount’
Make sure to set aside an hour or so, to stroll around the base track of ‘the Mount’ (as it’s affectionately known to locals). Starting at Pilot Bay, the path takes you alongside the stunning harbour entrance, past little beaches you can stop and swim at, and taking in views across to Matakana Island. The base track walk is a great family activity, there are rock pools to explore, and you may even spot fur seals sunning themselves!
If you have an average level of fitness, walking to the summit of Mount Maunganui is a must do. Not only is it a great bit of cardio to burn off all that divine food you’ve been enjoying on holiday, but you’ll be rewarded with absolutely breathtaking views out across the pacific ocean and to remote offshore islands. Watch the local thrill-seekers leaping off the mount to paraglide down to the golden sand below, and remember to take a selfie to commemorate scaling the summit!
Photo credit: Bob Tulloch Photography
Swim with Dolphins
If you’re holidaying during New Zealand’s spring or summer months, make sure you book a day trip to swim with wild dolphins. The pristine blue waters surrounding Mount Maunganui are the playground of bottle nose and common dolphins, and there are a number of quality operators who allow you to snorkel closely alongside these inquisitive creatures.
Choose one of the trips that include a generous provided picnic on an island beach, as well as spotting for seals and penguins, and make it a day to remember!
Dolphins play in the waters around Mount Maunganui. Image courtesy of Orca Wild Adventures
As you’d expect of a world-class beach resort, the options for wining and dining here are many and varied, so you can pick a place that suits your style.
There’s a flourishing food scene here that encompasses casual contemporary eateries, family friendly spots, beachside bars, cafes serving seriously good espresso, and even a few fine-dining establishments. As well as classic New Zealand choices like Fish and Chips (freshly caught fish, scallops and more, battered in the Kiwi way and served with hot chips), there are top quality Thai, Indian, Japanese, Italian, Turkish and Mexican restaurants.
Shiso kingfish salad at Mr. Miyagi restaurant (Image courtesy of Uno Magazine)
Wicked pizzas at The Pizza Library
Some of our favourite eateries here are:
Barrio Brothers ~ order some of the street-food style soft tacos and a pitcher of sangria!
Astrolabe ~ a Mac’s Brewbar serving ‘gourmet pub grub’ with a beachside vibe. Astrolabe is a Mount Maunganui institution, and has a superb beverage menu, and great eats for brunch, a long lunch or dinner. Fun, conceptual interior design and live music add to the lively, social atmosphere.
Post Bank ~ Award-winning restaurant, situated in an historic Post Bank building. Ideal for an luxury evening of fine food by candlelight.
The Pizza Library ~ The kids will love this one as much as you do! Huge, gourmet pizzas in a carnival-like atmosphere.
Shop ’till you Drop
New Zealand might be located at the ‘bottom’ of the world, but it’s a top destination for anyone who loves a contemporary, cosmopolitan lifestyle. The shopping in Mount Maunganui includes brilliant fashion boutiques and modern design stores.
Three of our faves:
Sisters & Co ~ Sisters describes itself as a luxury small department store. Located in the heart of Mount Maunganui’s shopping village, this beautiful store offers first-class service and personal styling, and the best international and New Zealand fashion brands (from stylish casual to elegant luxe) for the modern woman, along with a nail bar, hair parlour and make up salon.
Sisters & Co small luxury department store, Mount Maunganui
Paper Plane, the contemporary homeware and design store, is one of our favourite shopping destinations in Mount Maunganui. Image via Homestyle.
Paper Plane ~ A contemporary homeware and design store with utterly gorgeous things for your bedroom, bathroom, and living room. Owners Krista and Tim are masters of curation, and we defy anyone to walk out of this brilliant store without a bag (or two!)
The Little Big Markets ~ this twice-monthly market features the best craft and makers from not only the local region, but around New Zealand. Enjoy browsing row after row of homeware, art and quality craft, cakes and baked treats, handmade premium beauty products and much more, as you listen to live acoustic music from talented locals. The markets also play host to the Bay’s best food trucks (there is a thriving food truck scene here).
Buzzing atmosphere and modern, quality crafts and homeware at The Little Big Markets