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Mount Maunganui Beach
"The Mount" is the colloquial name for Mount Maunganui, a beach town that occupies a peninsula at the southern end of Tauranga Harbour. The peninsula is actually a huge sandbar, with a sheltered bay on the inner harbour side and a magnificent surf beach on the ocean side. At the very tip of the peninsula is a dormant volcano -Mauao - which rises to 230 metres above sea level. There's a choice of tracks leading to the summit, some more challenging than others. Huge views of the harbour, beach and Pacific Ocean make the effort totally worthwhile.

For decades New Zealanders have been holidaying at the Mount. It's a place for surfing, fishing, beachcombing and lying around on the sand. The glorious surf beach is patrolled by lifeguards throughout the summer and by volunteers for the rest of the year. The busiest section of the beach is close to Mauao; if you walk eastward toward Papamoa you'll find fewer people and more sand to call your own. The beach's reputation as a surfing mecca recently moved up a level with the installation of an artificial reef that produces consistently perfect waves. The reef is located 250m offshore and sits 0.4m below the lowest tide level, so it's not visible above water. It has been designed to produce fast peeling, tubing, right-hand and left-hand waves, suitable for competent and experienced surfers.

As befits a resort town by the sea, the Mount has a lively array of cafés, restaurants and shops. You'll also find a variety of ways to enjoy the environment - big game fishing, dolphin tours, blokarting and dive trips are easy to organise.