The awe-inspiring 232-metre peak of Mauao is an historic reserve of major archaeological and cultural significance. ‘The Mount’ is in fact the remnant of a large lava dome formed from eruptions 4.3 million years ago, which later became connected to the mainland by a sand spit. It’s great for boat-spotting, fishing and picnicking, and offers one of the best short walks in New Zealand.
Visiting Mauao is a ‘must-do’ experience. The base track is an easy 3.4 km amble taking around 30 minutes. Or put aside a bit more time to climb to the summit for spectacular views out over Matakana, Mayor and other islands. Various tracks to the summit are clearly shown on a big signboard near the Domain Motor Camp.
Things to see around Mauao include Tangaroa, the bronze statue of a Maori warrior, erected in 1976 to mark the establishment of the Port of Tauranga in 1873. On the seaward side of the Mount there’s a plaque marking the spot where the launch Ranui sank in 1950 with the loss of 22 lives —still the region’s worst maritime tragedy.