Whangamata - Mount Maunganui
Sep 22, 2008
|Depart Whangamata: 367 km (10.00)
We were awake at 5.00 this morning after another early night. We sat for a while after breakfast, me writing the journal and Nick studying the map. It's cloudier today, and a lot windier too, but no rain as promised, just yet.
It's now 17.40 and we're parked in a town called Mount Maunganui just east of Tauranga. Our site is right on the sea front. I'm sitting at the table in the camper, with a glass of wine, looking out at the ocean. The only thing between us and the ocean is a wooden walkway about 3 metres wide and then about 50 metres of sand. How cool is that?
This is actually quite an amazing place. The 'mount' refers to an inactive volcano, which is about 50 metres away from us. The pavement at the end of our van leads to a path around the volcano to the summit. It's a bit like a baby-miami beach...there is a steady stream of fitness people of all ages, from early teens to OAPs, walking or running up and back again. Easily more people than we've seen for the whole of the rest of our visit here so far. It's not heaving with people – as I look out now I count 7, but it's a constant movement back and forth. It's beyond dusk now too.
We climbed the Mount earlier in the day, just after lunch, and the views were amazing (not that any of the fitness people are looking at the views – they just run up, turnaround and run back again). The climb takes about 45 minutes, but took us 90 because of the view-staring that needed to be done. I think Nick took about 40 pictures. Words of course can't do the view justice, so look at the photos.
We left Settlers at around 10. The drive today from Whangamata was quite tough, but fortunately not too long. The first half (to Waihi) was very steep and twisty with a very uneven road surface. The camper itself is quite hard to drive on hills anyway because the gear differentiation is out – changing up from second to third you have to really rev the engine and then still it nearly stalls as you change up. Then coming down again you have to slow down to about 25kms or the gears just crunch. The uneven road surface and the camber of the roads causes the vehicle to sway from side to side and it feels like the whole thing is going to turn over! Very scary.
Mount Maunganui is a very pretty town, again based around a two-storey main street with boutiques and shops aimed at middle market shopping – not too pricey, not too cheap. We drove slowly through, heading towards the volcano at the end and looking out for somewhere to stay. Just when we got to the end of the main road and the volcano was right under our noses, Nick saw this place – Mount Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park. It's $30 for the night and we get full use of the facilities including some amazing toilets, showers, laundry and kitchen facilities, and the Hot Salt Water swimming pool (if 40 degrees can be considered hot). It is a really nice site and excellent value for money.
So we parked up, had a quick lunch, then 'tramped' (that's Kiwi-speak for hike or walk) up the volcano. After a quick snack back at the bottom we had a walk along the sandy beach and then strolled into town looking for some steak to cook on the barbi. Instead we found a 'shorti' wetsuit for Nick, so he can swim in the sea, and a native Icebreaker top for Nick too. A bit tired and with no steak in sight (we did find a wonderful curry house, but it was closed on Mondays!) we came back and Nick made Macaroni Cheese (not Macareeny Jones).
'sall for today.