Climb the mount, Mount Maunganui
The dominant feature of the town is the mount itself, Mauao. The name means 'caught by the dawn' and refers to an old Maori legend. The name Maunganui means, roughly, 'big mountain'.
Mauao stands 232 meters high, and as well as a base track taking you around the bottom of the mount, there are several tracks winding up to the summit. They can be steep in parts, but are easily walked in about an hour if you have the inclination coupled with reasonable fitness.
The views from the summit make your efforts worthwhile. On the day I climbed to the top with VTer 'Kiwi' we sat and watched a group of paragliders catch the thermals and enjoyed the view of the town and the distant islands out in the Bay of Plenty.
One option is to walk the Base track of the Mount. this takes about 45 minutes, but hopefully you will have time to spend longer here. The track is wide and mostly flat, and has a variety of views ranging from the harbour round to the Ocean. In the photo you can see The Mall on the harbour side. This is looking over Pilot Bay.
Plan to take a small picnic with you as there are several places where you can stop and enjoy the view.
This base track is accessible by wheelchairs and pushchairs, but you need to get a key for the gates from the Hot Pools, situated at the base of the Mount, on Adams Avenue. You will be asked to pay a refundable deposit and asked to be sure to relock, and not to let any sheep get through.
On the ocean side of the Mount, the Marine Parade Boardwalk continues for a while around a short part of the base. This area is very nice.
While you are at the summit of the Mount, there are often things to see. Quite a frequent site is the container ships going out of the port, through the channel between the Mount and the island seen here in the photograph.
It's a great place to be when the huge ocean racing power boats come to town as they go right by here as well! Also great for viewing some of the larger passenger liners and behemoths such as "The World" coming in. Of course whales and dolphins can be visible at times if you are lucky. Orcas too!
If you enjoy a reasonable level of fitness, you should easily be able to climb the Mount. This takes about an hour to get to the top and less to descend. If you have time to spare, then make lots of stops and take in the views. VT member allikat and I used the Summit Road to ascend, and this gave wonderful views looking back over the harbour and Matakana Island. You can also see beyond this to the ragged skyline of the Kaimai Ranges.
Mount Maunganui the town is named after the major landmark there, which is in fact a mountain. This small mountain has a couple distinct walking/jogging paths, and it gets plenty of use by the locals as a training.
The other interesting thing about this hike is that you are actually walking on an active sheep farm. We did not make it to the top, so I can not tell you about how beautiful the view is... but as evidenced by this picture, you can see that however far you make it, the view is spectacular!
This is a fairly easy hike, very well marked. I'd rate it intermediate to somewhat strenuous in certain sections. But then you'll find other areas are paved. You'll get some amazing views of the town from up there, it's well worth it.
One thing that is great to do at the mount is walk up it, but why not try and run it. Locals every day are running up and down , faster than i can walk up it , and with a steep incline you will surely tone up fast. Watching the sun go down was also my favorite, with all the lambs grazing around the edge, you wouldn’t tell your in a town.
We did the climb walk to the top of the Volcano, however I didn't make it all of the way, as it was quite windy and the track was very narrow indeed in places....however if you're not afraid of heights and of looking directly down the cliff at the sea, I'm sure you'd enjoy it as the view from the top is spectacular.
There are also other routes for those that are afraid of heights which avoid the steep drops.. If you follow the 4x4 track it will also take you to the top, it is a steep climb but you miss the narrowness of the other tracks. I took this one going up and took the narrow steps down. You can get to it if you start on the Harbour side and follow the sign for Summit.