As voted for by Bay of Plenty residents, Brett Atkinson visits the best Maunganui eateries within reach by electric scooter
The noticeboard inside Mount Maunganui's popular Tay Street Store may be promoting "pilates on the beach" and guided breath-work sessions, but my favourite way to start the day usually involves coffee and baked goods. Especially when it's a cinnamon bun that's been judged best in class by public vote.
An outside table at Tay Street is the ideal location to plan a day negotiating Mount Maunganui's new Dine on a Lime food trail. Eighteen venues around the Mount are offering favourite dishes as voted on by Bay of Plenty foodies, and all are easily reached on a Lime scooter. And while the full itinerary of venues is undeniably tempting – offering everything from Vietnamese duck salad to cheese scones and salted caramel wellness bowls – I decide on a more focused exploration of six local hotspots.
Picking up a Lime in the lee of Ocean Beach's sand dunes, I zip northwest along Marine Parade towards the leviathan profile of Mauao (Mount Maunganui), passing Norfolk pines now much taller than in my childhood memories. There's time to stroll to the forested northern tip of Moturiki Island, in different times a quarry, Marineland and water fun park, before continuing on the Mount's wooden oceanfront boardwalk to stop number two.
Inspired by her travels in Turkey and the Middle East, Malika Ganley added Turkish eggs to the menu at The General, and the dish – also known as cilbir – is one of the Mount's most popular brunch options. Poached eggs combine with house-made labneh and a brick-red sprinkling of Aleppo chilli flakes, while toasted sourdough and fried zucchini chips add variety and crunch. Malika pops out of the kitchen to say hi, and as we share favourite food-based travel memories, I'm discovering my Dine on a Lime map is a handy introduction to Mount Maunganui's most interesting dishes.
Stop three is just across Pacific Ave, so to prepare for impending Italian flavours I tackle the gentle 3km loop track around the base of Mauao, taking in views of Matakana Island and detouring up and down to a few quiet coves. Given my dining agenda for the rest of the day, I should probably be taking on the more challenging summit track.
Back on Pacific Ave, it's an Aperol Spritz and Allbirds kind of day at Alpino, and glasses of sparkling prosecco also reinforce the notion that the Mount's occasional dedication to Lululemon activewear and healthy living only goes so far. Afternoon sunshine is adding a touch of the Med, and the southern European reverie is reinforced by snatches of Italian being traded between the kitchen and waitstaff. Playing the Dine on a Lime long game, I manage to avoid ordering a Negroni and instead team sparkling water with Alpino's signature dish of crayfish ravioli.
Dessert options are tempting at Alpino, but it's back on the scooter to stop four. Crafted as a tribute to the All Blacks, Mount Made's Black Hokey Pokey icecream confounds the senses with its indigo-meets-grey hue ambushed by a smooth hit of butterscotch. Activated charcoal provides the colour apparently, a health benefit no doubt welcomed by Richie and Gemma McCaw when they stopped by Mount Made a few weeks earlier. After taking in a pop-up acoustic gig at the nearby Mount Mainstreet information centre – blues and soul with a Latin twist – it's off to stop number five.
Part of Bayfair's Dine eating and drinking precinct, a shopping mall is a surprising location for the innovative dishes at Izakai Bar & Eatery. Co-owners Liam Millard and Ryan Christensen first envisaged a restaurant blending informal Japanese izakaya-style and Māori flavours while at the Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong. From the Dine on a Lime recommendations, I order the hāngi pork ramen, packed with smokey pork belly, but also try their signature pāua and pork dumplings. I finally succumb to a Negroni, given a local spin with Tanqueray gin infused with seasonal figs and the peppery hit of foraged kawakawa. There's certainly a decent hit from the cocktail's gin and vermouth, so I wisely opt for the security of a short 2km Uber hop to the final stop of the day.
Crammed with kale, courgette, carrot and red onion, the Tiki dumplings at Johney's Dumpling House at The Rising Tide were actually created in response to Kiwi music legend Tiki Taane asking if there were vegetarian options on the menu. After more than nine hours of on and off eating, I'm in no shape to try his favourites and instead focus on a beer from one of The Rising Tide's 40 taps.
After a day of two-wheeled fun, of course I choose Mount Brewing's hazy IPA infused with orange peel and makrut lime leaves.
See www.bayofplentynz.com/dine/dine-on-a-lime/ for more information and a downloadable map.