Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Beachside at The Mount

There we were settling in for a quiet Saturday night when I saw a short email flash across the laptop screen;

Hello folks, we r in Taupo at the mo but have booked two nights at a camp site we have wanted to stay at for ages. Beach front at the mount, it would be good to catch up. ....... bring that big 5th wheeler onto the camp for a night. C ya Pamela & Gerald

It only took a few minutes to decide & respond;  You're on, beachfront. See you there!! 
I don't think they thought we'd be up for it at such short notice.

Pam is my aunty from Napier but being only 6 years older than me she's more like an older sister. David & I catch up with her & Gerald on a regular basis, they are long time regular campers along with another aunty & her husband and after missing the New Year camping expedition  we were looking forward to this as it would be our first chance to share a campsite since we purchased the 5th-wheeler..

Mt Maunganui is just across the harbour from our house in Tauranga so this was going to be a very short trip, just 8kms to travel, we'll be a tourist in our own town. I'd only just finished repacking the van & giving it a good spring clean so we were ready to go after adding food & our clothes. Another thing learnt, always have the van ready to roll, you never know  when you're going to get a surprise call (or email)

We arrived ahead of Pam & Gerald & were all set up within minutes of pulling onto the site where we were pleased to see we had some big brothers for company. Fifth wheelers are becoming very popular, but after talking to the owners of the other two great looking rigs we decided we still had the best size for our needs. Neither of the other two had been on or wanted to take them on gravel roads. If we had that restriction we would have missed most of the Coromandel.

Baby Bear, Mama Bear & Papa Bear!

Look at the size of that rig!
The holiday park sits at the base of Mt Maunganui, an extinct volcano cone, at the end of a beautiful golden sand beach. Mt Maunganui or Mauao also forms part of the entrance to the huge Tauranga inner harbour & estuaries. It's known colloquially as "the Mount" and is the most popular and one of the most iconic kiwi holiday destinations in New Zealand. For six months of the year and especially over the Christmas & New Year holiday period the beach & camping ground are a mass of people enjoying the sun & surf. The prime camping sites are booked well in advance & usually from year to year by the same families. Thankfully at this time of the year there aren't so many visitors & it's easy to get a beach front site.

Main Beach, Mt Maunganui
Main Beach

Pam & Gerald arrived not long after us & set up their caravan next door. When booking in I had made sure that we got a site beside their booked one & also that we were positioned on the site so that our doors opened towards each other. That way we would have easy access to each others vans & room to sit and enjoy the sun.

During the afternoon the wind steadily increased & there was quite a large rolling surf with plenty of sea spray coating our vehicles (& just after David had given them both a good clean). It was nice and cosy inside the van & I had a great view of the beach and the passing traffic on the boardwalk from the dinette!

Unfortunately the forecast was for a 'significant weather event' happening in Northland, Auckland & the Coromandel with heavy rain, gale force winds & possible tornados predicted. We were located just on the edge of this area and as the afternoon progressed we started to feel the effects. We decided to get in a walk around the base track before the rain started.

The 3.5km track runs around the base of the Mount and is a very popular walkway. Every day hundreds of people, locals & visitors, walk around or up the Mount, a lot using it as part of their daily exercise regime. Over 1 million people use the tracks around & up the Mount every year (there is a counter located near the beginning of the track). It's a tough 40 minute climb to the summit but well worth it for the awesome 360 degree views. We decided we'd just do the base track this visit but here is a photo I prepared earlier :) There are more photos from the summit in my Flickr set here.

Sunrise, Mt Maunganui, New Zealand. by flyingkiwigirl

At the camp we were sheltered by the Mount a little but once we got around the northern side we could see that the storm was approaching. A ship leaving port was crashing through the waves on the incoming tide. I guess the pilot is used to clambering off ships in rough weather but I'm sure he was going to have a hard time of it today.

The storm approaches
Tauranga Harbour Entrance- a ship leaves port

We had very little sleep Sunday night, the wind was ferocious, the van rolled & shook something terrible. I looked out at one stage to see that Pam & Gerald had dropped their awning, luckily they did because I'm sure it would have been gone by morning. We could hear the wind gusts winding up and I'm certain there were a couple of mini tornedos in there, each one grabbed the van & gave it a huge shake. After two or three of those we decided to pull our side in, not that we expected to be picked up or anything, it just gave us peace of mind & allowed us to sleep a little. I think our row of vans in their decreasing sizes provided quite a bit of shelter. Even the big guys said they were unsettled by the force of the wind.

The next morning, which just happened to be my birthday, dawned calm, cool & overcast. After a restless night & a slow start we headed across the road to our favourite cafĂ©, Slowfish for my birthday brunch which was, as always, delicious. Later we had a wander along the beachfront & through town then back in time for 'Happy Hour" or in our case, & because it was a special day, 'Happy Two Hours'. And then while we could still manage it, Pam & I cooked a lovely birthday dinner for us all. It was a great night with lots of fun & laughter. I'm sure anybody walking past must have wondered what on earth all the hilarity was about. It was a great way to spend my birthday. And because we were due to leave in the morning we all decided that we'd stay another night & hope our last day would be a sunny one. Which it was.

Mt Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park
Being beachfront it was a great place to people watch, there was a constant stream of people of all shapes & sizes and from all walks of life, walking, running & strolling along the boardwalk. It was rather strange though as I kept seeing people I knew walking past, I wasn't quite as comfortable walking around outside in my dressing gown as I have been on other sites that's for sure.  
Our camping site is hidden behind the bush on the right
I managed to catch this guy doing the splits! He'd just come tumbling down the boardwalk doing cartwheels & backward flips. I imagine he was a dancer of some sort or perhaps a circus performer or just maybe he was a regular guy who like to show off!

Pam & Gerald went off to Tauranga city to check the shops out over there and as I know exactly what they are like I had no interest in joining them. David & I decided to visit the hot salt water pools which are located right in the middle of the holiday park. We had a relaxing soak in the various pools although I found most of them too hot for me on a sunny afternoon.

Afterwards I took a walk up the back of the camp with my camera catching this rabbit along the way. It wasn't hard, there were dozens of rabbits around the camp, out feeding on the grass & hopping in around the cabins and long term caravans. There were far too many for my liking & I'm not sure why they aren't being poisoned or trapped. They are a major pest in NZ and going by the mess & rabbit holes around the sheep paddocks they must be eating just as much as the sheep on the Mount.

Sheep & high-rise buildings, not quite the usual scene you'd expect in the middle of a city
After another night of conviviality we retired early enough to get a good nights sleep with nothing but the gentle lapping of the ocean waves reaching our ears. The next morning we were up bright & early & ready to depart well before check-out at 10am. We had a fabulous few days catching up with Pam & Gerald & enjoyed the spontaneity of it all. We did find it rather strange though, being a tourist in our own city.


  1. What a beautiful country you live in, Shellie. It is often the way that it takes visitors to make you visit stuff on your own doorstep!

    1. Hi Fiona, lovely to hear from you. And I could say the same about your country too, Scotland took our breath away! I guess we always think the grass is greener on the other side. Thanks for stopping by xx


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, I love reading them! All comments are personally moderated by me and I will post and answer them as soon as possible, Shellie