Mauao (Mount Maunganui) is the focal point of the coastal Bay of Plenty.
Standing at 232 metres high, Mauao is one of the most significant spots for tangata whenua (people of the land) and the local community.
A dormant volcanic cone, Mauao is a popular spot for activities. The base and summit tracks are used by over a million people each year. Rock climbers and paragliders are common sights on the mountain.
In addition to its role as a centre for outdoor activities, Mauao is of great cultural significance. Tauranga’s three Iwi (tribes) – Ngati Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi, and Ngati Pukenga – regard Mauao as their most sacred maunga (mountain). An earlier iwi of Tauranga, Waitaha, also held Mauao in the same regard.
Mauao is a historic reserve that represents the physical remains of approximately 1000 years of human occupation. It is home to many pa sites, natural springs, nesting birds, native coastal forest and a friendly flock of sheep that grave on the cleared pasture areas.
Tangaroa, god of the Sea, is the three metre statue on the western side of Mauao. Tangaroa reminds those venturing out to sea that they are entering his domain.
There's also a large rock named Te Kuia, this rock personifies a great elderly woman who once resided on Mauao. A local custom of boats and kayakers is to offer a koha (gift) to Te Kuia, in return for their safety while at sea.