MOUNT MAUNGANUI: Don't miss the easy, hour-long walk around the Base Track of Mt. Maunganui, especially in December and early January when the pohutukawa trees (aka NZ Christmas tree) are in bloom (brilliant red flowers). Occasional fur seals on rocks; shags; grey-faced petrels at night during nesting season; crashing waves on the rocks in windy weather; scenic views of harbour entrance and the harbour and Matakana Island. On a sunny day, the view from atop The Mount is picturesque and worth the walk upwards. Paragliders go off the top of The Mount.
The CAMPGROUND is one of most expensive in NZ (in mid-NZ$20s per night), but it is right at the base of The Mount and its trails and is beachside. Definitely worth a stay for a day or two.