Sunday, August 15

Up the Mount

The sun briefly broke through the clouds this afternoon here in the Bay of Plenty. After almost 300 millimetres of rain over the last few days, this part of New Zealand is looking decidedly soggy. I took advantage of the dry spell and ventured out to climb Mauao, or Mount Maunganui as its more commonly known. This extinct volcanic cone rises 232 metres above sea level, offering a stunning view along the Bay of Plenty coastline from its summit. From here you can marval at white sand beaches stretching both North and South as far as the eye can see.

The summit of the Mount is a place of childhood memories. As a child I'd always make an effort to conqueror the summit at least once any time we were in town - usually to visit my grandparents. They retired here in 1973, much as my own parents have sudsequently done. The Bay of Plenty is one of New Zealand's warmest and sunniest locations, making it an ideal place to unwind and enjoy the perks of senior citizenship.

It's been a great many years since I last climbed the summit; at least a decade, possibly more. However, as I took my final steps today onto the broad, flat plateau along its peak the view was exactly as I remember it. Now, as then, it's a wonderful reward for 50 minutes of steady uphill hiking. I was joined by dozens also seeking the same reward. As always, the Mount remains a popular location for scenic walks, jogging and even hang gliding (if conditions are right).

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