This town is named after the small mountain known to Maori as Mauao, which is a place of cultural and legendary significance to the local Maori tribes. The biggest attraction here has always been Ocean Beach, famed for its surf and great swimming. The Mount itself has a network of lovely walkways. The full 3.5km (2-mile) walk around the Mount takes about an hour. You can also climb to its 252m (827-ft.) summit, which takes about 2 hours. Pick up the free Walker's Guide to Mauao from the visitor center. The Mount is also home to New Zealand's first artificial surf reef, which is located just offshore on Marine Parade.
At the base of the Mount, on Adams Avenue, the Mount Hot Pools (tel. 07/575-0868; www.tcal.co.nz) are in a modern complex where you can soak away all your aches and pains in water warmed to 102°F (39°C); the active and children's pools are 90°F (32°C). Private pools and massage services are available. Hours are Monday through Saturday 6am to 10pm, and Sunday 8am to 10pm. Admission is NZ$12 for adults and NZ$8 for children ages 5 to 14, NZ$6 for children 2 to 4. Private pools go for NZ$12 per person for 30 minutes.
En Route to Rotorua
As you head south to Rotorua on State Highway 2, you'll pass through Te Puke, the "Kiwifruit Capital of the World." Here's where you'll find Kiwi360. The road is good for the hour-long journey, but it gets crowded with lots of heavy logging trucks headed for the port in Tauranga - drive with extreme care!