Tauranga's beachside suburb has much more than a big hill to recommend it writes Lillie Rohan
I've heard the stories about New Year's Eve parties, seen a million Instagram posts from the top of the Mount and relished in friends' recollections of relaxing summers on the beach but until I visited for the first time recently I don't think I realised how utterly captivating the Mount could really be … or how much there is to do.
From a bustling town strip full of the most beautiful shops, restaurants and bars to the newly refurbished hot pools, and a V8 tour that will knock your socks off, it's no wonder this town is popular. And you don't need to wait for next summer to visit - here's what should be on your list for an off-season visit.
Breakfast of champions
After a Mount Maunganui must-do - a walk up Mauao - you'll be in need of sustenance. Make brunch at The General your motivation to get you up and down that hill. On our visit, it felt like the whole population of Mount Maunganui was there too, which we took as a sign we were in for a treat. The service was excellent and, alongside the divine breakfast menu there's a drool-worthy cabinet of savouries and sweet treats.
Have a soak
Metres from the beach, the newly refurbished Mount Hot Pools feature three large outdoor pools that cater for all ages. And if you're looking for something a bit more private, they have just the thing.
There are three private pools hidden away with a lock and key and once you step inside the Hamptons-style beach shack, you'll instantly feel like Aphrodite in a lush bath-house. The pools are filled with heated ocean water from Pilot Bay, jam-packed with healing properties for your body.
When you leave the pool your legs will feel like jelly and just when you think you can't get any more relaxed, walk a metre to your right and you'll end up in the massage suite. Fern or Isabelle will target those knots in your back and have you sighing in relief as your stresses melt away.
The pools are open Monday to Saturday, 6am-10pm and Sunday/Public holidays, 8am-10pm.
Tour the town by trike
The V8 Trike Tour is a stylish and fun way to see the Mount. Our tour guide, Nigel, was brilliant - he met us with a smile, popped us in the back seats and wasted no time in revving the engine of the V8 Chevrolet trike.
You'll grin like an idiot while racing through the streets of the Mount catching everyone's eyes as you take in all the breath-taking scenery, and Nigel waxes lyrical about the local history. Before you can ask too many questions he's revving the engine and you're questioning if you're a secret petrol head. It might be over far too soon, but you'll be buzzing for days.
Find a hidden secret
Hide restaurant is just that - hidden - but at peak time, the queue to get in will give away the secret. Pop in for Happy Hour, but don't be surprised if you end up staying until dessert. The menu is full of mouth-watering choices, including seafood, sharing boards, and pizzas. We went for the "Meaty" pizza and while you would assume this would be overwhelming, Hide has nailed the "less is more" vibe.
If you want something sturdy, their mains menu is nothing short of incredible and if you think you don't have room for dessert, trust me, you do. We enjoyed a greek yoghurt pannacotta and a peanut parfait, and left in a food coma of bliss.
CHECKLIST: MOUNT MAUNGANUI
DETAILSFor more things to do at the Mount and Tauranga, see bayofplentynz.com