I am incredibly lucky to have called Mount Maunganui home for a few years. In New Zealand, “The Mount” is famous for its stunning views, it’s endless white-sand beach, and it’s laid-back surf lifestyle.
As you will see, it also makes for a dream travel photography location. The mountain alone will keep your camera focused without ever running out of new angles or perspectives.
So, here are 12 of my favourite photos of Mount Maunganui:
1. Tauranga Bridge Marina
This is one of the first photos I took after moving to The Mount. It initially wasn’t an image I liked, but one I found and re-edited a while later while searching through my photo-archives.
2. The Cross
This photo of the rocks on the north side of the mountain was a happy accident that I took while playing with seascapes one night. I found this crack in the rocks, and as the water flowed in and out during the long-exposure, it created a cross shape.
3. Mount Maunganui Sunset
One of the last images I made before leaving The Mount, this was taken while exploring the base of the mountain after a beautiful, hot summer weekend.
4. Driftwood Seat
I was lucky to get a photo of this driftwood seat that somebody had made on Mount Maunganui Beach because somebody unfortunately destroyed or stole it soon after. It was a great seat for sitting and watching the stunning beach.
5. Moturiki Island
“Leisure Island” as it was known for a long time (and still is by some) got the name because it had a water park on it many years ago. Fortunately, it’s been left to return to natural bush. You can walk right out onto and around Moturiki. There’s a pretty sweet blowhole at the end that’s fun to watch when the surf picks up.
6. Mount Maunganui Nightscape
This was a photo that I took one night when I was hoping to get a shot of the Milky Way and stars over The Mount. Unfortunately, the sky didn’t come to the astrophotography party that night, but I was still pretty happy with what I walked away with.
7. Mount Maunganui Rocks
Another photo looking back on the mountain from the rocks on the north side, just off the base track. The sea was pounding the rocks pretty hard that day, but the long exposure gives the water and clouds a nice dreamy effect.
8. Crashing Waves
The waves were big and heavy on this night also. I was playing around with different seascape shutter-speeds to get different effects, and this was one of my favourites. I had to pack up pretty soon after this shot because the tide was coming in and it was getting pretty sketchy!
9. Milky Way over Mount Maunganui
I managed to get back to this spot on Moturiki Island to shoot the Milky Way not long after the attempt mentioned above. This is a number of images stitched into a panorama, and one of my first Milky Way attempts.
10. Stairway To Heaven
The walk up the summit track to the top of Mauao is a must-do for anyone living near or visiting Mount Maunganui. I highly recommend getting up early and doing it for sunrise because the view will blow you away. Hiking up only takes 20-30 minutes, but you’ll get hot, so doing it early in the day is far more pleasant.
11. Moturiki Island
This photo was another happy accident that I took while waiting to get the photo below. I was exploring the rocks on Moturiki Island while I waited for the light to improve when I turned around and composed this shot with the light behind me. Another reminder to turn around when shooting sunsets.
12. “The Mount”
This photo of Mount Maunganui is almost spiritual for me. Mauao is tapu (sacred) for Maori, and I understand why. It’s an incredible place, and it makes you stop and stare. I have this image printed large on my wall, and it never fails to make me stop what I’m doing and stare at it. Every photographer only gets to have a few images like that, and this is one of mine.
I hope you’ve enjoyed viewing Mount Maunganui through my camera lens. If you haven’t visited yet, be sure to add it to your travel bucket-list. If you have, I would love to see your photos. You can leave a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to take a look 🤙
Walking up the Mount is a pretty popular activity for locals and visitors to Mt Maunganui. I really had no idea how popular it is though! I got to this location around half an hour before sunrise and even in the dark there were loads of people on the track walking or running up to the summit.
This is the only photo of dozens that had nobody on the track. I must be overdue to hike right up to the top for sunrise again. It’s well worth setting your alarm and getting up there for sunrise if you haven’t done it before. Great way to start the day!
Beautiful Waiheke Island
Having spent most of my childhood in Auckland, I clearly remember the excitement of getting on the ferry to Waiheke Island. Although it’s only a short trip, I seem to remember it being an epic journey across oceans to the faraway island that was always so full of adventure and mystique. In my mind the ferry was a monstrous ship that I could never seem to completely explore, despite the seemingly endless hours it took to get there.
In reality Waiheke Island is only a 30 minute journey and the ferry only a very modest two-level boat that you could easily walk around in a few minutes. My imagination isn’t what it used to be. Everything is more fun when you’re a kid.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Waiheke Island with some friends and the one thing that hasn’t changed from my childhood experience was the excitement of getting on that ferry. Maybe it was the nostalgia, or the gorgeous Auckland day, or going on an adventure with new friends, or maybe because we were going to drink wine and beer in the sun. Probably all of the above.
Visiting Waiheke Island is a very popular activity for both Auckland locals and visitors. The amount of people packed onto the ferry that day was testament to what a fantastic place it is to see. There isn’t a lot on the island, but if you’re up for adventure and stunning scenery, you won’t be disappointed. One of the most popular activities to do on Waiheke, and my excuse for setting my alarm for 5.30am and driving from Mt Maunganui, is wine-tasting!
Getting around the island is pretty simple. Buses are regular and will take you to almost anywhere you need to go. Many of the wineries and vineyards are within walking distance of the main bus routes, so you can easily create your own wine-tasting itinerary and enjoy walking and exploring. Of course, there are also a number of companies offering wine tours if that’s more your style. If you prefer to be chauffeured around in an air-conditioned van you will be able to visit more vineyards in a day, and this option is great for those who aren’t up to the (often strenuous) walking, or just prefer not to arrive at a beautiful hilltop winery sweating like they’ve just run a marathon. There is also the option of renting bikes for the day, which seems like a great idea, but could make for an interested ride at the end of a day of drinking in the sun. Sun and wine are a great/dangerous combination. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
One of Waiheke’s many walking tracks
We only made it to three wineries due to opting for the walking tour. We started at the beautiful Onetangi Beach for lunch, then walked to Obsidian, then on to Stony Ridge, and finally Wild On Waiheke. Obsidian’s wine was by far my favourite, although I don’t consider myself much of a wine connoisseur, so don’t judge me. For the overall experience, though, Wild On Waiheke would be very hard to beat.
Wild is a brewery as well as a winery, in fact the only brewery on the island. Being a much bigger fan of beer than wine, I was sold immediately. Their beer was phenomenal! They offer beer and wine tasting, a restaurant, and they also have really fun activities like archery and clay-bird shooting, amongst other things, although I’m still trying to get my head around the health and safety considerations of mixing booze and firearms! Unfortunately we were running short of time so couldn’t try the food or activities, but I will definitely be heading back there very soon! We did, however, manage to fit in a round of Cards Against Humanity, which was suitably offensive and helped to clear the bar of all the other visitors! Lucky they were closing anyway 😉
We just made it onto the very full bus and spent the last few hours of sunlight drinking the day’s purchases and swimming at Oneroa Beach. I was glad to see the sun go down after a long hot day, and I managed to grab this shot of the sunset despite all the wine and beer in my system, not to mention very cleverly leaving my tripod in my car in Auckland.
Sunset over Waiheke Island
All in all it was a fantastic experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I was reminded recently while out capturing this Mt Maunganui landscape of the importance of not getting so focused on one scene that you miss something potentially beautiful elsewhere. This is especially important when photographing sunrises and sunsets, which obviously draw our attention towards the dramatic light. It is often during these times that the sky directly behind you can be gorgeous, although usually not so dramatic. Sometimes these scenes can make for some stunning images as the colours in the sky are often a beautiful mix of oranges, blues, and pinks, not to mention that the foreground and scenery will be lit with a lovely soft light from the sunset or sunrise behind you.
This was my thinking while out photographing The Mount last week. I was sitting watching the light in the sky and realised quickly that the sunset wasn’t going to turn it on like I had hoped, so I sat and waited for the light to fade and the street and building lights to come up. As I was waiting, I turned around and looked behind me to see this:
Moturiki Island, Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. Click on the image to buy.
Shooting with your back to the light can create some unique challenges though. There is less light to work with, which requires longer shutter speeds, and often your own shadow ends up in the frame if the sun is still above the horizon. These challenges can almost always be overcome, however, and you will likely find that the effort pays off with some great landscapes. So, next time you’re out photographing that dramatic sunset, don’t forget to turn around!
Mount Maunganui (Mauao)
In keeping with my resolution to have a second look around my hometown after this little experience, I grabbed my gear the other evening and went out to photograph a scene I’ve wanted to for some time, but haven’t yet got around to. Of course, it didn’t take much hunting to find this location, but it is still in my hometown, so it counts. Mt Maunganui, or Mauao (the indigenous Maori name), is affectionately known here in New Zealand simply as ‘The Mount’. Admittedly, it’s not a particularly original or imaginative name, but it is what it is. The extinct volcano sits at the inlet to Tauranga Harbour and can be seen right throughout the Western Bay Of Plenty. The Mount is considered to be one of New Zealand’s top holiday locations due to its close proximity to Auckland, the climate and the white-sand surf beach that stretches for miles past Papamoa and down the east coast of the North Island. It is also often high on the list of the many tourists who come to NZ as a travel vacation destination.
View from Leisure Island of Mauao, Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. Click on the image to buy a print, canvas, or license.
This particular night I had been watching the sky and it looked like it was going to turn on a gorgeous sunset behind the mountain, but a big cloud front pushed over and shattered my hopes. Such is the way with landscape photography. I had some fun with long exposures anyway and came up with something I’m happy with. This is a 60-second exposure, which as you can see has made the ocean nice and milky and peaceful when the surf was actually pumping.
Thanks for visiting. As always, I welcome and encourage comments and please share below.
As you can see from my recent posts, I have been unusually inactive here on the blog over the last few months. This is mainly due to some big moves and changes for me. After returning to New Zealand in November 2011 after 6 months traveling and photographing Africa and South America, I wasn’t feeling the love for Wellington that I once had, so decided it might be a good time to consider other places to base myself. Having grown up in West Auckland, I had very little desire to head back there, even though I still have family there. After spending a few months traveling from the top of NZ to the bottom, and taking whatever work was available (including six weeks on the set of The Hobbit as an extra!), I finally decided on Mt Maunganui, Tauranga. The Mount, as it’s affectionately known, is a place I have long considered making my home. There is so much going for it, the weather being high on that list, and it’s been one of the smoothest transitions into a new city that I’ve ever made.
Getting to the point of this post, I have finally found some time to pick up my camera again and make the most of the stunning beach that we now call home. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m sure there will be much more to come. This shot was taken following a huge storm that lasted a couple days here in the Bay Of Plenty. They don’t come here often, but when they do, they come with a vengeance. You don’t see The Mount Beach like this very often, but I hope you like it.
Click on the image to download the high-resolution wallpaper free.