Mount Maunganui: 8 Things Not to Miss in This Fun Beach Town

Mount Maunganui New Zealand

Mount Maunganui is known as one of the most beautiful beach towns in New Zealand, and it’s easy to see why! This east coast paradise is popular with both locals looking to escape Auckland for the weekend, as well as travelers hoping for sun and fun in Mount Maunganui. While most people come for a quick trip, we spent an entire month in this hip beachside town. Join us as we breakdown our favorite things to do in in Mount Maunganui, where to watch the sunrise, and even the best surf spots!

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Planning a Visit to Mount Maunganui New Zealand

Situated in the Bay of Plenty, this small but booming beach town is a must visit for any ocean lover. It’s clear blue water and close proximity to other popular North Island towns make for the perfect vacation getaway. Here’s a few things to know before you go to beautiful Mount Maunganui!

Driving: Mount Maunganui is 2.5 hours drive from Auckland, an hour from Rotorua, and just a short trip from the Coromandel Peninsula

Flight: From the center of Mount Maunganui town it’s only a few minutes drive to Tauranga Airport. Here you can find inexpensive flight connections on Air New Zealand to Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, and other cities on both islands.

Bus: When booking a bus to Mount Maunganui there are two options depending on the company you use. Some will drop you directly in Mount Maunganui, while often the cheaper and more direct buses will let off in nearby Tauranga center. From there you can hop on a local bus, or hire a taxi to take you the rest of the way. 

Mount Maunganui Travel Guide

What Makes Mount Maunganui the Best Beach Town?

Mount Maunganui beach is hands down one of the most gorgeous in the country. Yet, it isn’t not only the stretch of sand that makes Mount Maunganui the best beach town in New Zealand! 

The backdrop of the dormant Mount Maunganui volcano is the undisputed star of the show. It’s the first thing you’ll notice when you arrive and town, and the hike to the top is filled with stunning views of the coastline.

Still, this isn’t the only side of Mount Maunganui to take in on your visit! You can also quickly walk from Mount Maunganui beach across to Pilot Bay. Here you’ll find a waterside park, calm water, and beautiful boats that fill the harbor. 

This combination of nature, cute shops and restaurants, and the ocean is what makes Mount Maunganui so special. This beachside surf town draws a mix of younger party lovers as well as older wealthy families… And somehow it all meshes together perfectly! Below we breakdown some of our favorite things to do in Mount Maunganui that you shouldn’t miss out on. 

Mount Maunganui Beach

8 Things to do in Mount Maunganui New Zealand

1. Mount Maunganui Beach

While there are many amazing beaches in New Zealand, there is something that separates Mount Maunganui from the rest. Most days you’ll see surfers tearing up the waves right underneath the mountain, while others the water is still and crystal clear!

On a nice afternoon you could literally walk for hours and hours along the Bay of Plenty. Eventually if you keep heading south it will turn into Papamoa Beach which is also a phenomenal stretch of sand.

→ 25 Beautiful New Zealand Beaches on the North & South Island

Swimming at Mount Maunganui Beach

2. Hike Mount Maunganui

For the best view make the steady climb up to the top of the mountain that sits above town. Nicknamed “The Mount” by locals, the giant green mound is actually a dormant volcano! The different hiking trails will lead you to incredible views of the coast and neighboring Tauranga.

There are half a dozen paths that take you up, over, and around the town. Check out our hiking guide below before you go, and be sure to take in a Mount Maunganui sunrise one morning! 

→ Mount Maunganui HIke: Fun Base Walk & Can’t Miss Summit Climb

Mount Maunganui  New Zealand View

3. Moturiki Island (Leisure Island)

Set to the right of the main Mount Maunganui beach is the famous Moturiki Island. What used to be a small oasis of natural pools for vacationers in the 1980’s has now been transformed back to its natural state. Although you can’t soak in these plush pools anymore, the area is actually a breeding site for little blue penguins!

The island jets out into the water with a small slice of land connecting to the shore. Exploring Moturiki won’t take more than 20 minutes, but don’t be in too much of a hurry.

There are several viewpoints and cut downs that offer views of the beach with Mount Maunganui behind it. It’s also one of the best places to watch the surfers on a wavy day!

Moturiki Island

4. Happy Hour Hop on Maunganui Road

As soon as the Mount Maunganui sunrise comes up the town explodes with energy! Specifically in the summer it’s packed with fun bars and restaurants that offer some really great happy hours.

From $6 beers and $9 cocktails to taco deals and more, it’s easy to find something for everyone. So in the late afternoon stroll the several blocks that make up the heart of the town and enjoy some tasty drinks and food.

→ Best New Zealand Food & Drinks: 27 Delicious Things to Try

Fish and Chips

5. Pilot Bay Beach

On the opposite side of Mount Maunganui beach you’ll find another small sandy area called Pilot Bay. This is a nice switch up from the wavy ocean and showcases a different side of town.

Take a leisurely stroll along the bay, or have some lunch overlooking the boats. This is also a popular area to go wind or kite surfing in if you’re looking for a little more adventure!

One of our favorite nights in Mount Maunganui was when we had a sunset picnic on the water here. Pilot Bay Fish & Chips is right on the harbor, or our favorite place for takeout (Mount Fish & Chips) is located a few blocks away. We ordered the fresh snapper, wedges, and octopus balls for a sunset seafood feast!

Pilot Bay Mount Maunganui

Pilot Bay

6. Surfing at Mount Maunganui Beach

As we mentioned before, the most popular surfing spot is directly under the mountain at the main beach. The best part about surfing at Mount Maunganui beach is that most of the time it caters to an easy to intermediate skill level. There’s plenty of more challenging places to surf in New Zealand, but Mount Maunganui is a good place to learn!

Swing by one of the several surf shops in town where you can rent a surfboard and wetsuit in the winter months. Also on the weekends or summer season you can hire a teacher for an introductory lesson.

Surfing at Mount Maunganui Beach

7. Circle the Mount Maunganui Base Track

We’ve talked about hiking to the top of Mount Maunganui for the best views, but don’t miss out on the base track either! This lovely 30-40 minute stroll literally circles the bottom of the mountain on a well maintained path. On a hot day make sure to pack your swimsuit as there are several cut downs and crystal clear swimming spots. 

Mount Maunganui Base Track

8. Mount Maunganui Sunrise & Sunset

If there’s one thing that’s an absolute must on your visit it’s catching the Mount Maunganui sunrise! Jump out of bed one morning bright and early, and make the steep climb to watch the town light up before you.

When we set off for our Mount Maunganui sunrise hike there were many others on the trail with us. While some where trying to catch the sunrise, many were also getting their early morning workout in!

For sunset head to Pilot Bay, the base track on the back of The Mount, Moturiki Island, or go for a drive down the coast. Wherever you decide to go, the long stretch of sand that makes up the Bay of Plenty will rarely let you down for sunset.

Bay of Plenty Sunset

Have any questions about this guide or want to share more of the best things to do in Mount Maunganui? Let us know in the comments below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar


Where To Stay In Mount Maunganui New Zealand

Ultra LuxuryPavilion Beachfront Apartments – Gorgeous beachfront apartments with balcony views of the Pacific Ocean. Each unit is self-contained and includes a spacious living room and full kitchen.  

Fun Vacation – The Pacific Apartments – Just a 5 minute walk from the town center, and 2 minutes to the base of the Mount Maunganui hike. Pool, hot tub, and fitness center are just some of the great amenities you’ll get at the Pacific apartments.

Budget Travel Seagulls Guesthouse – Located just outside of town across from beautiful Blake Park. Seagulls has a family friendly feel and a wide range of private room options. 

Hostel Life – Mount Backpackers – Situated right on the end of the main street in town, and around the corner from the Mount Maunganui summit walk. The best bars and restaurants are steps away from Mount Backpackers. Bicycles, surf boards, and skateboards can be rented at the front desk as well. 

For more places to stay in Mount Maunganui New Zealand you can explore the latest prices here!


New Zealand Travel Planning 

Jucy Van: The best way to explore New Zealand is with a Jucy camper! We spent over six weeks driving around the North and South Islands in a van and loved every moment.

 Rental Car: If you’re not renting a van you’ll need a car to see this country. We use Discover Cars when traveling and enjoy having the freedom to get around.

 Flights: It’s easy to find cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we got flights from Auckland to Queenstown for $40 USD, and New Zealand to Fiji for less than $150! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get the best deal such as and Agoda. Also,  Hostelworld should be your go to if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over New Zealand! They have everything from tickets to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves to a Hobbiton movie set tour, and even a Northland hole in the rock dolphin cruise

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for insurance the last few years and they are always there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials


North Island New Zealand

Travel Tips & Guides:  10 Helpful NZ Travel TipsNorth Island ItinerarySouth Island Itinerary  – Wellington to Picton Ferry15 Freedom Camping Tips27 Delicious Food & Drinks

Auckland & Northland: Piha Beach & Kitekite FallsCape Reinga LighthouseRussellMangonuiMount EdenDevonport Day Trip Waiheke Island Guide9 Best Waiheke Wineries

Lake Taupo: 17 Fun Things to DoMount Tauhara HikeBest Street ArtTaranaki Falls – Huka Falls Walk14 Tongariro Crossing Tips 

New Plymouth: 10 Fun Things to DoDawson FallsTe Rewa Rewa BridgeParitutu Rock HikeEgmont National Park

Wellington: 10 Fun Things to DoMount Victoria HikeBest BreweriesCable Car & Botanical Gardens

Bay of Plenty:  TairuaHot Water Beach  – East Cape Road TripHow to Find Tua Tua Clams 

Rotorua & Raglan: Redwoods Treewalk8 Raglan Things to DoBridal Veil Falls

Explore all our South Island New Zealand Travel Tips & Guides

North Island New Zealand

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