Mount Maunganui is one of the major suburbs of Tauranga, located on a peninsula to the north-east of the city. It was once a small independent town set apart from Tauranga until the completion of the Tauranga Harbour Bridge in 1988. As the bridge was completed, Mount Maunganui was then united with the Tauranga CBD, allowing for a more easier and convenient flow to and from.
The iconic mountain, Mauao, is a large lava dome which was formed by the upwelling of rhyolite lava roughly two to three million years ago. Mt Maunganui (Mauao) sits 232 metres (761 ft) above sea level. Mauao has two very popular, yet distinct walking tracks. One is known as the summit track and the other, the base track.
More About Mount Maunganui below the following listings and map. As well as the Maori Legend of Mauao.
Mount Maunganui is situated atop a sand bar that connects Mauao to the mainland, a geographical formation referred to as a tombolo. Due to this formation, the residents and visitors of Mount Maunganui have both a harbour side beach known as Pilot Bay and an ocean side beach known as Mt Maunganui. This beach has excellent surf. From the base of Mauao, the distance between the harbour and ocean is roughly 300 meters.
Between Mt Maunganui Beach, the mountain Mauao sits at its western end, and a man made land bridge connecting Leisure Island (Moturiki) at its eastern end.
The Mount (Mauao) is a giant volcanic rock dome that reaches a height that is much higher than the town itself. This mountain which supplies the town its name is 232 metres (761 ft) tall, and dominates the largely flat land that extends from it.
Once a upon a time it was used as a Māori pā. When walking around the base track the remains of trenches can be seen in the ridges, as well as ancient shell middens. Today, it is open to the public all year round, and remains a popular place for locals and visitors to either walk around, or climb up. From the summit, a long stretch of coastline can be seen in either direction, as well as the Pacific Ocean, Kaimai ranges and Tauranga City.
There was once a hill with no name who lived on the edge of the Hautere forest. This nameless was a pononga (slave) to the great chiefly mountain, Otanewainuku. To the southwest was the shapely form of Puwhenua, a beautiful hill, clothed in all the fine greens of the ferns and shrubs and trees of the forest of Tane.
The nameless one was desperately in love with Puwhenua. However, her heart already belonged to Otanewainuku. There seemed like no hope for the lowly slave. In despair the nameless one decided to end it all by drowning himself in the Pacific Ocean, Te Moananui a Kiwa.
Calling on the patupaiarehe, the people with magical powers who dwelled in the forests of Hautere, pononga asked them to plait the ropes with their magic and then haul him down towards the ocean. Chanting their song they began to haul the nameless one slowly towards the water, gouging out the valley where the river Waimapu now flows. They followed the channel past Hairini, past Maungatapu and Matapihi and finally past Te Papa to the water’s edge.
By this time it was very close to day break. The sun rose fixing the nameless one to that place. Being people of the night, the patupaiarehe fled back to the shady depths of the Hautere forests, before the light of the sun descended upon them.
The patupaiarehe gave the name Mauao to this mountain which marks the entrance of Tauranga Moana. This means caught by the morning sun. In time, he has assumed greater mana than his rival Otanewainuku. Today he is known by many as Mount Maunganui, however to the Maori people he is still known as Mauao.