Celebrating Our Anniversary in Tauranga
Well, it might be pretty obvious that we are way behind in updating the blog, since our four year anniversary was the 1st of September. But we spent 3 days celebrating it in Tauranga & nearby Mount Maunganui and made some great memories in the process. Tauranga is a bigger city than we were expecting (note: ‘big’ by New Zealand standards isn’t really all that big, but it wasn’t like, say, Cheviot, with its one small convenience store, 2 cafes, and one petrol station). At any rate, Tauranga is a popular holiday destination for Aucklanders with its warm, balmy climate and ample access to beautiful beaches. Many people vacation in the Mount Maunganui neighborhood (affectionately known as The Mount), which our Lonely Planet guide deemed “as riviera as New Zealand gets.”
You’d need to save your nickels and dimes to afford a holiday here, but it’s definitely a beautiful area.
After we left Gisborne, we stayed one night in the town of Whakatane with a CouchSurfing host. Whakatane is generally known as the launching point for tours to White Island–New Zealand’s most active volcano, which is almost constantly erupting (or at least smoking & rumbling a bit). While a helicopter ride to an island that could potentially vomit hot molten lava on you would have been neat, we were happy to take a bush walk near our host’s house then head to Tauranga.
We stayed with Stuart & Katrina, whose daughter Anna we met at Alistair’s flat in Wellington. They were so lovely to open their home to us and include us in dinner every night while we were there.
The events we had planned for our actual anniversary didn’t exactly pan out as we had hoped, but collectively over three days, our anniversary was fantastic. We started the day with brunch at Slow Fish, a cafe in The Mount that serves locally sourced, organic dishes. It was a bit cloudy, but sunny enough to sit outside on the patio by the beach.
A chilly wind picked up quite heavily and blew sand darts all over our ankles on the beach, so we decided to forego our hike to the summit of The Mount itself for another day.
The next day included Turkish kebabs by the beach and a Haka-Off at Tauranga Boy’s College where our host Katrina is a tutor. The Maori Haka is the traditional war dance / battle call of the native people. It was basically an attempt for a tribe to intimidate and scare off their opponent before fighting and eating them alive. The Maori people aren’t cannibals anymore, and there’s really no other need to head to war against one another, but the haka is preserved as a piece of their culture in competitions and dances. The All Blacks rugby team does the haka before every match. It was neat to see such a large part of New Zealand heritage integrated into the schools.
The sun came out full force on Saturday, so we headed back to The Mount for a hike to the summit. We captured some beautiful views of the Bay of Plenty!
On our way out of town we decided to splurge on some traditional Kiwi fare–fish & chips! Bobby’s Fish & Chips by the wharf was recommended to us by our host and by a magazine I read a few weeks prior, so that’s where we ate lunch. There’s nothing quite like fresh caught fish deep fried and served in newspaper!
After lunch we made a stop at McLaren Falls Park for a walk and then a nap in the sun by the lake before heading to Rotorua.
With all the beautiful beaches, we would have loved to experience Tauranga & The Mount in the summertime. But I guess that will just have to wait until our next trip to New Zealand!
Check out more pictures from Tauranga & The Mount on Facebook!