Fodor's Expert Review Mauao (Mt. Maunganui)
This dormant volcano is the region's visual icon; its rocky cone stands sentinel, 761 feet high at the end of the peninsula that boasts one of New Zealand's best swimming and surfing areas. White-sand beaches with rolling surf stretch for miles away from Mauao. Trails on Mauao include an easy walk around its base and the more strenuous summit climb. To get to Mauao, head toward it along any road running parallel to the beach. The Mount Maunganui area gets crowded around Christmas and New Year's Eve, so consider early or late summer (or even winter) for your visit. Beach walks or exploring Mauao is a delight at any time, and the sidewalk cafés are always open.