Mauao is without a doubt Tauranga's most well-known and popular attraction.

Whatever time of the day you decide to walk up or around it, you are never alone.

On a fine day it is not an exaggeration to say there are usually hundreds of people enjoying the beautiful scenery and getting some exercise at any one time.

On days when a cruise ship is in port the mountain is even more overrun with tourists wanting to get the best view of the city and the coast.


I don't blame them, I make sure to take any visitors who have never been to the region before up Mauao.

It's not surprising that the idea of a donation box at the bottom of the mountain has sparked such interest and debate.

On Saturday the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend reported local woman Karen Ellis had floated the idea and had the backing of Tauranga City councillor Bill Grainger.

The idea has some merit but also makes me slightly wary.

It could be a great way for tourists and visitors who enjoyed their time in the area to contribute a couple of dollars to the maintenance and upkeep of Mauao but it would have to be done right.

A discreet donation box would be fine.

Something you could drop a few dollars in if you wanted to but could easily bypass if you did not. It's when the donation almost becomes a fee that it's a problem.

I always feel bad refusing to pay the donation at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

There are ticket booths with staff in them lined up at the entrance and you feel as though they are judging you if you do not pay.

Almost 1 million people use the Mauao tracks every year and 100 cruise ships are scheduled to dock at port next season.

I'm sure some of them would be more than happy to make a donation.

However, as a Tauranga resident who uses the tracks up and around the mountain fairly often, I would not be willing to make a donation every time I went there.

Tauranga residents already pay for the upkeep through rates, either directly as a homeowner or indirectly through rent.

We shouldn't feel pressured to pay again.

In the same way, we don't want to put off tourists and visitors.