Plan For Day One: Mount Maunganui, Whakatane, White Island, Opape
Day one has arrived. The weather has decided to play game, and given us clear blue sky’s and a nice warm temperature. Perfect way to start my road trip.
I wake up early, excited for the day ahead. The campervan is pretty much ready to go, just need to finish a few things around the house, finishing touches to the camper, say good bye to family and friends and away we go singing “just the two of us” 😊 me and my Camper (JUST DOOING IT).
First stop for the day is Mount Maunganui, not far from home but a place I love. The town made on a small peninsula with a hill at the northern end called Mount Maunganui or the Maori name Mauao but known by the locals as just ‘the Mount’. This is one of New Zealands favourite summer destinations, with Tauranga harbour on one side and a surf beach on the other side. In the township there are lots of good Restaurants, Cafes, Hip Bars, Surf and clothing shops but you can’t go there without getting yourself a Copenhagen cone from just outside the hot pools at the base of the Mount, best ice creams in town even if you might have to join the Que. The town quite often has a chilled out and laid back vibe with locals, holiday makers, Tourist and surfers enjoying what it has to offer.
One of the best things to do is to talk a walk, Follow the board walks around and head to the mount itself. When you get to the Mount, you have a couple of choices on what to do, depending on how energized you feel, you can either take the base track or climb to the top. The base track is 3.5kms long on an easy gravel track allow around 40mins. The Summit track is a lot steeper, with not much flat ground the whole way up. At around 3.8kms so will take a bit longer but the views from the top make it worth the effort.
This is my choice for the day, to the summit I go all 232m of it. Probably not the best thing to do midday on a hot summers day but good for the fitness and the view makes it worthwhile. As I head up, not even quarter of the way and already covered in sweat, then the stairs start ☹ what was I thinking it’s way too hot for this. Anyway, I carried on around, taking in the views up the coast of Matakana island then around a bit further to see Tauranga city. Finally, after a few photo opportunities stops along the way I make it to the top. This is why I love this place, The Views, you can see for miles and with hardly a cloud in the sky, the view down the coast over the Mount township and out past Papamoa, then turn around and look up the coast to Waihi and the Coramandel.
After pretty much dying on the way up because of the lack of exercise over the last couple of months and the blazing sun, I make the much easier return down the stairs to the main beach for lunch. After lunch, I take a quick stroll over to leisure island. To get a few more pictures. The surfer are out and the beach is full of sun bathers socking up rays, prefect summers day.
Next stop is to Whakatane, 86km east. The plan was to jump on a tour boat and head out to White Island (Whakaari), an active volcano (last erupted in 2013) 48km of the coast. The tour would take me out to the privately-owned Volcano by boat, then a walking tour around one of the craters and an old Sulphur mine before heading back to Whakatane. But as I was leaving Mount Maunganui I found out that the trip had been cancelled due to big swells out at the island ☹. Not the news I was wanting but can’t do much about what mother nature is doing so bit of change of plans. I spent the rest of the day having a quick look around Whakatane, down to watch a few boats come in over the bar and few fishermen lose a few fish as they got tangled on the rocks before heading towards Ohope and finding a nice lookout that use to be a local tribes Pa site (traditional Maori village). With a Maori carving and a couple of plaques on the stones, it looks back over the Town and out to White Island.
As its getting late in the afternoon I decide to head to camp for the night and head 58km further around the coast, I’m staying at Opape camp ground for the night, Nice little camp right on the beach. $10pp for nonpowered and $12.50pp for a powered site, it has showers, toilets and cooking facility’s as well as having a nice long the beach to enjoy.
That wraps up day one, time to test out the bed in the camper before day 2.