We snuck in a walk around the Mount before todays storm set in. As I type it is hailing!

Mount Maunganui or ‘the Mount’ as it is more commonly called is not very far from where I live, about 22km. The Mountain that presides over the township gives the whole area it’s name. “Mauao” is another name given to the Mount just to add to the confusion. I have been to the Mount, as in the settlement of Mount Maunganuimany times but to the mountain itself only a few times. Yesterday I walked around it for the first time ever. I have never had a very high regard for ‘the mount’ viewing it as an over marketed tourist attraction that isn’t much of a Mountain anyway! Mt Maunganui is not exactly aMt Taranaki or a Mt Ruapehu but yesterday  I saw the Mount with new eyes. I bonded with it so to speak!! The mount is not impressive in the same sense as Mt Taranaki is and it dosn’t even nearly get snow  like Ruapehu but I do appreciate it now for the role it plays ecologically. I saw many birds, including a colony of Black Oystercatchers and a nesting site for Shags. You can imagine my extreme delight at this later discovery but more on this soon! The mount provides food and shelter for these sea birds and many more other species and it also hosts the occasional seal. I have to say that I totally underestimated and under-appreciated this wonderful gem.

I am not sure what startled these birds but I became aware of there presence through the noise they were making! They took off , circled and came back to where they started so I am guessing the danger or the excitement was only temporary!

I recently scored a great book callled “The new guide to the birds of New Zealand” at a 2nd hand shop recently. Published in 1981 it is not exactly a ‘New guide’ how ever I am very pleased and with the help of the book I was able to identify these birds as being ‘Black Oyestercatchers’ and I learnt that they breed December to Janurary so I will be going back to take more pics then!

I wish I could tell you that my son is also an avid bird watcher but really, he was more interested in all of that bird poop!!  Here’s a link if anyone is interested in learning more about this bird.  The story below about the legend on Mauao is courtesy if AA travel.

The story of Mauao, his tracks and beaches.

Mauao (or Mt Maunganui), situated on Tauranga Harbour’s eastern entrance, was once a nameless hill.

According to Maori legend, this hill was a pononga [slave] to a mountain called Otanewainuku. The pononga was in love with a hill called Puwhena, but she had already fallen for his captor.

In despair, the nameless hill decided to drown himself and he called upon the fairy people [Patupaiarehe] to assist with his endeavour. The fairy people began dragging him toward the sea, however, these nocturnal imps lost track of time, and as they neared the ocean, the rising sun signalled their disappearance.

The nameless one was left in the very place where he still stands, and became known as Mauao, which means “caught by the dawn.”

Today, he still faces day’s first light; as do many who walk his 3.4-km base, which passes by remote beaches and rocky cliffs. Sea lions and whales are often seen in this area and it remains a fantastic standpoint to watch ships head in and out of the Port of Tauranga.

It takes around 30-minutes (for the relatively fit) to reach Mauao’s summit; a hike that bestows 360 degree views over nearby islands and the wider Bay of Plenty region.

This location has long been a favourite holiday destination for kiwis, in particular Main Beach. A beautiful white sandy beach, it’s the base for a host of activities such as surfing, beach volleyball and thundercat racing. You haven’t been to “The Mount” without enjoying the beach on a busy summer’s day.

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