‘The Mount’ rises abruptly at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour. It is an extinct volcanic cone that towers over the idyllic Ocean Beach, a summer mecca for thousands of sun, sea, surf and sand worshippers.

Mt Maunganui is synonymous with New Zealand’s love of long summer days and balmy evenings on beaches and barbecue areas. Ocean Beach draws surfers from all over the world into its sunny embrace. By contrast, just two hundred metres away on the harbour, is a placid beach, which is safe for young children.

A popular activity here is walking the scenic track around the base of Mt Maunganui or climbing to the summit. From here you can see an unbroken stretch of golden sand sweeping around the bay to Papamoa. To the north stands the forested expanse of Matakana Island enclosing the picturesque Tauranga Harbour. Having soaked up the stupendous view from the summit you can enjoy a salubrious soak in the hot saltwater pools at the base of the mountain.

Behind the golden glow of Ocean Beach, amongst the relentless high rise development, you will find the perfect complement to a day swimming, surfing and volleyball playing. A cluster of restaurants, bars and cafes offer excellent dining and wining as the sun goes down.

While many visitors focus exclusively on ‘The Mount’ lifestyle of lazing on the beach, body-surfing the shoreline break, riding the perfect wave and sipping sundowners in a street cafe, there are ample alternative activities.

Boat trips on the bay are one way to appreciate the beauty of this mini Gold Coast. Harbour cruises or private boat hire, enables you to explore the sheltered waters. Fishing, diving and big game fishing charters take you way out on the blue Pacific. So too does swimming with dolphin trips and day tours to Matakana Island and the wonderful marine reserves and walking tracks on Mayor Island.

A short drive down the coast leads you to the modern Bay Shopping Centre and the Papamoa beachside community. Further east is Te Puke, where the kiwifruit reigns supreme.