Monday, 8 January 2018

Popular Playground- Pilot Bay


Mt Maunganui's Pilot Bay is a very popular place to visit for locals and visitors at anytime of the year.

Whether is water or wind sports, big boats or small...

...boating, swimming, fishing, walking or strolling hand in hand along the boardwalk. Perhaps it's family picnics, BBQs or fish 'n chips at the tables or just watching the world come and go...

or maybe just sitting on the grassy bank with a loved one (or by yourself) watching the sun set...

....the small sheltered bay provides something for everyone.

From our campsite at the Mount Holiday Park we could also watch some of the comings and goings,  though it did depend on who camped between us and the view and how long they stayed. 

This couple had it worked out; they set up in the front corner campsite and had a prime view of Pilot Bay for the duration of their stay. I thought they must have been in such a hurry to relax that they forgot to put their awning up fully but someone suggested it may have been too small for the caravan. 

I also wondered how they fared when the 5am exercise buddy group went all out doing lunges, stretches and tossing around a weighted tyre while holding onto the fence and constantly shouting encouragement at each other. 

I went for frequent short walks along Pilot Bay's boardwalk with my camera...

...and sat beside the boat ramp, in the perfectly positioned bench seat, overlooking dozens of jetskies and boats as they left from and arrived back at the ramp.

When sleep eluded me, and while the camp silently slept and the streets were deserted...

... I walked up the 4WD track behind us to a small open plateau where the view over Pilot Bay, across to the lights of Tauranga Port, was spectacular.

Here, at 3am and with not another soul in sight I wiled away the hours as I trialed various camera settings and techniques. 

And then as the sun rose...

I captured the earlybirds; outrigger canoists practicing on Pilot Bay's calm waters...

...and fishermen leaving for their favourite spots out in the Bay of Plenty.

I did have some company one morning; these local residents were reluctant to move from their warm overnight grassy spots- obviously a popular night camp going by the poop I had to dodge. I wonder what they think as they watch the world wake up and the silence broken by the faint buzz of boats as they speed towards the harbour entrance.

Below me a fisherman tries his luck from the rocks near the Base Track as the sun rises on another blue sky day in the Bay (taken at 5:20am).

On this day and after the sun has risen, I headed down to the Base Track just as paddleboarder silently glided past. He's heading in the same direction as I, I bet he's off to see the same thing too. One of the season's many cruise ships coming through the entrance. 

You may have noticed the cruise ships in some of the photos. The next blog will be dedicated to my new 'train-spotting' ways- I captured every cruise ship that arrived while we were at the Mount. I also shot them as they left. And I have no idea why. I suppose just because I could.

Now here's a hot tip (literally) from an ex-local. Can you see your own secret (until someone spots you) spa pool in this photo? There's a slight movement on the surface water just above and to the right of those exposed rocks.

Now at low tide you can you see it. This is the cheapskates version of the Mount Hot Pools; the warm salt water from the pools is discharged through this outlet daily. Locals have built two small rock pools around the outlet...

...and children swim and adults soak in the pool at high tide and others soak their feet in it at low tide- it's the perfect spot to warm up after a swim in the cold sea water. That dash of light material that looks like something has spilt is actually crushed white shells.

Many find Pilot Bay too busy or too touristy but I have always enjoy visiting (even when we lived here). I love soaking up the year round holiday atmosphere from this jewel in the Bay of Plenty crown. It's also the perfect place to watch the sun go down on another stunning day in the Bay.


  1. My home town since 1956. Many memories of christmas and new year hijinks. Now am up at Pyes Pa POP. Thanks Shellie for all your blogs and photos.

    1. Hi Rona, lovely to hear from you and I'm glad you enjoyed reminiscing. It sure is a lovely town even though it's grown 100 fold over the years. We arrived in 1988 and have really noticed the changes in recent years, I can't imagine how much it would have changed for you.
      We pulled into your POP the year before last but unfortunately there wasn't a space to be had, you have a very popular place out there. Maybe next time we're in town we'll try again. Best regards, Shellie

  2. Forgot to add my name, Rona Murdoch

  3. Thank you for the photos Shellie. I loved the Mount when I stayed there for a few days in October. Maybe I'll be able to get back there again some day and will check out the "spa pool"!

    1. Hi kiwitales, I'm pleased you enjoyed the photos and blog. Even with all it's vices I still love the Mount too, I always look forward to returning. Enjoy your spa on the next visit :)


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