Mount Maunganui's Mauao has become such a popular destination, more than the equivalent of Tauranga's population climbed it in the past five weeks.
Tauranga City Council figures released to the Bay of Plenty Times revealed a total 129,818 people climbed to the top of Mauao from December 1, 2016, to January 8 this year.
This was notably more than the 39,461 people who walked only the base track in the same time frame.
"For us, that's been the big surprise," parks asset co-ordinator Dave Grimmer said.
"We always thought the base track was the busiest, but more people go up to the summit than the base, so that's quite significant."
In total, 169,270 visited Mauao, which recorded its busiest day of the past five weeks on January 5 when 5852 people climbed the summit and 2406 circuited the base track. The quietest day was December 8 when just 700 people climbed to the top and 90 walked the base. This included a reduction in visitors on the Waikorire and Oruahine tracks while they were closed for resurfacing over a week in December.
Figures from Statistics New Zealand showed the city's population grew to 128,200 in 2016. However, this figure swelled over summer as people visited the Bay on holiday.
The new foot traffic figures were a first for the council, which only installed new counters at the end of 2015.
Mr Grimmer said the original counters were not ideally located and the figures they produced were unreliable.
The new counters allowed the council to analyse key days, times and habits of Mauao visitors, and showed there were a lot of people using the reserve for exercise most days.
Five days over the Christmas and New Year period each recorded more than 5000 people climbing the summit.
Most of the busiest days in the past five weeks did not fall on a weekend. Only New Year's Eve came close, with 4944 people climbing to the summit on the day.
Rotorua man Herbert Mitchell regularly travelled over to Mount Maunganui specifically to climb Mauao. In the past five weeks he had been over three times.
"It's my favourite thinking place because it's relaxing while hearing the waves crashing at the bottom. I also like to watch the sunset up there or down at the beach and sometimes wait for the street lights to come on," he said.
"Every other time I go up there is when I have couchsurfers staying with me. I take the chance to take them up there just to show them the view and how beautiful it is up there. Not only that, there's all these different walks and paths to choose from but I love the stairs because it keeps me fit," Mr Mitchell said.
Of the different tracks leading around and up Mauao, the Waikorire Track (steps) was the most popular among visitors, with 114,369 people climbing it.
Mauao summit's five busiest days
Thursday, January 5 - 5852
Wednesday, January 4 - 5650
Friday, December 30 - 5462
Tuesday, December 27 - 5224
Wednesday, December 28 - 5157
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