Saturday, 4 November, was a partly cloudy day, and even though it was the weekend we decided to venture through the town of Tauranga to the large lava dome we can see from our B&B. The lava dome is not Mt. Maunganui though! Mt. Maunganui is the name of the resort town, now a suburb of Tauranga. ‘The Mount’, known to the Maori as Mauao, is a popular hiking area with summit trails and a base trail that encircles it. We joined lots of other folks wanting to get outside after yesterday’s rain!
On Google maps Mauao is a blob of land at the end of a spit forming the entrance to Tauranga Harbour, a busy port that has international shipping traffic.
The map sign board was handy for our hike, but trying to distinguish the trails by their Maori names was difficult!
As we started our hike up we met part of the landscaping crew! Mauao was a prominent Maori Pa (fortified village) whose terraced summit was traditionally kept clear of forest so the residents could protect their stores of water (maybe a well) and taro and kumara (sweet potatoes), the staple foods of the Maori pre-European influence.
We could look down on Tauranga Harbour and the heavily forested Matakana Island fronting the harbour. Clearcuts are visible.
Looking back towards Tauranga (population of about 161,000) and the busy port. We saw a ship loaded with logs being escorted out of the harbour by tug boats.
As we reached the summit, we could see the windward side view, looking down on the town’s beach that stretches east to join Papamoa beach in the distance.
Being the windward side, paragliders take advantage! This guy was doing sweeping turns and dives down the cliffs!
We descended on the windward side and hiked around the base back to our starting point.
We got a real Oregon Coast vibe on the seaward side of the mountain!
We walked out to the beach for a look back at the mountain (and the finish line for a race finished or not yet begun?).
We finished our day with a great grilled lamb dinner and drinks looking over the meadow at sunset!
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