Tauranga and Mt. Maunganui September 22, 2007- September 23, 2007
We drove over to the Eastern coast to do two things…climb Mt. Maunganui (an extinct volcano) and go Blokarting (no kidding). The drive took us through a funny named town that give us quite a kick (Te Puke)…almost as good as the name of another town we passed through the other day- Whatwhata. Our hostel reservations changed quickly once we got to the city. We chose the hostel touted as having “a Hilton location” on the waterfront (an old hotel converted into a hostel) for its location and by description only. Big mistake. While Ted was upstairs checking out the room before we paid for it, I noticed a sign at the front desk that said “Earplugs $2”- not a good sign. Once I saw Ted’s face when he came back from “the viewing”, we begged for the guy not to charge us for the room we had booked for the next two nights. At least the guy at the desk was honest about the potential noise and helped us find other digs. The hostel was adjacent to two nightclubs (one on either side) that were going to be open until 4am. It was Saturday night. We ended up at another hostel…back to the good ‘ol bang-your-head-when-you-get-out-of-bed bunk beds. Good enough.
The next day we headed out to climb Mt. Maunganui. Imagine a bustling little town with a 232m tall mount sticking out of it. It’s hard to miss. The only reason to climb to the top versus taking the 35-minute walk around the base is for the mere sense of accomplishment and the 360-degree views.
The climb itself remind me of the four-day ascent to Machu Pichu I made years ago. What were we thinking? The trails are very well maintained, the scenery is awesome, but don’t think that carrying 15 pounds of camera gear each to the top was a good plan. ☺ All in all, we did get some great scenery shots saw a baby seal on a rock.
We made the round trip in less than 4 hours without falling down or breaking anything…and we took the “long and easy trail”- ha!
On the way back, we stopped by Blowkart Heaven to see if we wanted to cough up the $1 per minute ride. By the way, blowkarts are motorless go-karts attached to a windsail. Ted had a romantic image of riding them down the beach in Tauranga, but when he saw the asphalt track that was built in someone’s back yard, we decided to forgo the ride and try them elsewhere. Evidently there are several other places in the world to ride them.
After waiting 20 minutes for any sign of a waiter/waitress in a Turkish restaurant to order dinner, we found a Spanish/Italian tapas bar called Volare. Our eyes lit up when we saw an impossible-to-miss blue bottle of Luna di Luna behind the bar- a table wine that was a staple in our fridge back home. Finding an establishment that served even Italian wines instead of the “local specialties” was quite a treat. After Ted warmed up the owner, we were drinking glasses of good Italian wine accompanied by amazing tidbits of meat and vegetables dipped in mint sauce. Seek out and search out a bottle of Tomassi Super Classico for me and I will be your new best friend.