Maunganui, Mt

Also known as Mauao

Mauao, more commonly known as Mt Maunganui, is a 232 m volcano which guards the entrance to Tauranga Harbour. Occupying a prime location in one of New Zealand’s busiest holiday hot spots, many will be familiar with Mauao’s position overlooking the main beach. Bagging Mt Maunganui is a great introduction to peak bagging, as the paths to the summit are well maintained, and it’s a short return journey.

Maori Legend

“According to Maori legend, this hill was a pononga (slave) to a mountain called Otanewainuku. The pononga was in love with a hill called Puwhena, but she had already fallen for his captor.

In despair, the nameless hill decided to drown himself and he called upon the fairy people (Patupaiarehe) to assist with his endeavour. The fairy people began dragging him toward the sea, however, these nocturnal imps lost track of time, and as they neared the ocean, the rising sun signalled their disappearance.

The nameless one was left in the very place where he still stands, and became known as Mauao, which means “caught by the dawn.”

List Status Official
Elevation 232 m(761 ft)
Location/List North Island, New Zealand
Region Bay of Plenty/East Coast
Location Coordinates 37° 37′ 49″ S, 176° 10′ 19″ E
Nearest Town/s Mt Maunganui, Tauranga
Geology Volcano
Translation Big mountain (Maunganui), caught by the dawn (Mauao)
Recommended Route
Duration Help.gif 1-2 hours (return)
Distance 3.8 km (2.4 mi)
Start/End Points Pilot Quay, Mt Maunganui
Difficulty Help.gif Easy
Track conditions Help.gif Path
Season Help.gif All year
Sights Views , Views of Tauranga harbour, Matakana Island

Getting There

By Car

To get to Mauao, simply aim for the Mt Maunganui town centre and continue following the main roads until you ‘hit’ the peak. The closest parking is available along Marine Parade or at the wharf area on the corner of Adams Ave and The Mall.

Public Transport

The Mount is serviced by public bus with local connections to Tauranga and Papamoa, and wider regional connections as well. Taxis are available also.


Our Recommended Route

There are several paths up and around Mount Maunganui, which means that you can take your pick whether to go up the gentle way (gravel path) or the steep way (stairs). If you don’t feel like climbing the Mount, you can also do a circuit around the base of the mountain!

We suggest starting from near the surf club on Marine Parade and walking up the steep way via the stairs to get a good workout! On the way you get to see great views of Mt Maunganui Beach and out to sea. To the top it takes about 30-45 minutes at a gentle pace.

At the top of the Mount there is a big grassy area with a trig, a memorial, and great panoramic views of the town, Makatana Island and the surrounding coast.

To get down, try the gravel path instead for a gentler descent and a chance for different viewpoints. The full trip takes about 1-2 hours, depending on your speed and time spent relaxing at the summit. Afterwards, treat yourself to a snack at one of the local cafes located at the base of the mountain.