If traveling to New Zealand and Australia has taught me anything (but especially for New Zealand), it’s that renting a car is the way to go. The amount of times I wanted to take a drive to a cool hike or waterfall and then be let down because no bus or transportation would go there, was way too often.
When I arrived in Mount Maunganui to visit my aunt and cousins it really hit me then after the long and scenic bus ride that I was barely scratching the surface of what I could be seeing everyday! But all in all I still saw a ton and marked pretty much everything off of my checklist that was doable wherever I was staying.
I stayed for about 4 days with my aunt and her family and got to explore the little town of Maunganui and was very pleasantly surprised. First off, the people are so incredibly nice, a little grungier/backpacker-esque than Australia for sure, and it seems as though everyone knows everyone which I love. Second, it’s a total mini surf town which I was not expecting at all. So many surfers, beachy cafes/stores, it felt like I was on the Gold Coast in the sense that everyone is super laid back, there’s a surfing culture, and you are sitting right on the water with greenery surrounding you everywhere you turn. It was so much fun to catch up with everyone and to hear the New Zealand accents whenever my cousins would talk. So friggin cute.
The first two days some of my highlights include:
Hiking Mt. Maunganui – a walk up the street from their house which was amazing. It’s such a beautiful, vertical, and pretty quick hike. You can see the entire city of Maunganui from the top. Ridiculously stunning and a good workout to say the least…
Running around on the beach down the street and spotting tons of puffer fish along the beach. Never seen one of those in real life.
Walking through the main street in town: Maunganui Road.
Grabbing fresh milk and fruit from a local farmer up the road.
The evening ritual/pre-dinner workout of spraying water and soap on the trampoline in their backyard and jumping around with the cousins at sunset. Then hopping in the jacuzzi and accidentally overflowing the tub with bubbles…oops. Wish I took some pictures but you get the idea.