Mt. Maunganui is a great spot to relax. You can spend a leisurely hour walking around its base, exploring the tide pools and shells, or you can hike straight to the top for a 360-degree view of the town and ocean.
"The Mount," as it's known to Kiwis, is on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, in the Bay of Plenty. It's one of the country's volcanic cones and of course, it wouldn't be New Zealand unless it was covered with a few sheep, just for good measure.
Kiwis (New Zealanders) head there for summer vacation or a weekend, enjoying the laid back atmosphere of the local cafes, pubs, restaurants and nearby fish and chip shops. On my recent trip Down Under to see family, I was told I had to wait until I got to The Mount before I could get fish and chips (a favorite of mine on any visit) because the Omana fish and chip shop is a good place to get them. Yum. Snapper and battered oysters. I'm also a sucker for green lipped mussels. If you go, make sure you get them in season, when they're juicy. Alternatively, you can get them marinated. I love them any way they come!
(Warkworth, north of Auckland, also has a great fish and chip shop. Really juicy battered oysters there!)
But I digress. (Let's just say I put on a few pounds while I was there, as usual.)
Other towns in the Bay of Plenty include Tauranga, a major commercial center and port, as well as Whakatane, where you can take a boat to see White Island, an active volcano.
To see more glimpses of New Zealand from my recent trip, click here to go to the first piece in the series on SonomaValley Patch this week and the rest of the headlines will pull up alongside on the right.