Occupying a narrow peninsula punctuated by a volcanic cone, the Mount is an uptempo beach town with thermal hot pools, lively cafes and hip bars. Despite being swallowed by Tauranga in 1989, it still retains a distinct identity, shaped largely by its sun-soaked surfy vibe.
Maunganui means 'big mountain', so Mt Maunganui is a rather strange name (Mt Big Mountain?), especially considering that: a) it's not that big; and, b) its actual Māori name is Mauao, meaning ‘caught by the dawn’.
Sunseekers flock to the Mount in summer, served by a cluster of high-rise apartment towers studding the spit. On the ocean side, long lovely Main Beach is popular with both surfers and swimmers, or you can cut across to the harbour side for a gentle dip at Pilot Bay Beach.