Take the Kids to: Mount Maunganui!

Welcome to our travel series, all about travelling with kids – in this instalment, we’re taking a family holiday in Mount Maunganui. In each ‘Take the Kids to’ travel story, we’ll find the best places to stay, eat, play, save some money, have some time out for Mum and Dad, and lots more.

After a non-existent summer in Auckland, I was HANGING OUT for some sunshine – and surprisingly, I managed to stumble upon some in the middle of autumn in Mount Maunganui. I even swam in the ocean! Seriously! (See, anyone who knows me well will be floored by this, because I run cold and it has to get pretty toasty for me to consider going for a dip).

But, besides the chance that you might get some glorious blue sky – no matter the season – Mount Maunganui has got to be one of the best spots in New Zealand to head for a family getaway.

If you’re keen to head down or up or across to Mount Maunganui with your family, here are our top tips from having just been there:

Best spot for breakfast…

My personal fave has got to be Eddie & Elspeths! It’s actually two different spots, under one roof. Half is Elspeths, where you’ll find a cabinet of freshly baked goodies to take away, or eat-in, like croissants (that are as big as your face) and top notch muffins (the blueberry and white chocolate one comes highly recommended). 

The other side is Eddie’s domain – with a ridiculously tasty menu that’s very allergy friendly. My pick of the bunch has to be the sweet potato pancakes (trust me on this one), with peaches, berry compote, co-yo and a sprinkling of toasted nuts. It’s seriously good – so good, I ate them two mornings in a row. The coffee is hot, strong and delicious.

The insanely good pancakes at Eddie’s

Best place to stay:

For the perfect family holiday, get a home away from home, with a holiday house from Booking.com. A holiday home can make life so much easier – for a start, there’s a full kitchen available, so you don’t have to constantly eat out, plus you’ve got multiple rooms, so you won’t end up holed up in the bathroom at 8pm, sitting in the empty bathtub watching Netflix on your phone while your kids are asleep in your hotel room.

We stayed at the Maranui BeachSide Retreat which is just a short walk to the beach (and, at the nearest entrance to the beach you’ll find that beach toy library I talk about later in this story!) and a short drive to Bayfair mall.  It’s spacious, modern and clean, with a patch of grass for the kids to play on. Upstairs there’s a full kitchen, dining area, lounge, bathroom, plus a sun-drenched deck. Downstairs there’s a bathroom, laundry, mini lounge, a master bedroom (with huge walk-in wardrobe and ensuite), a second room with a double bed and a kids room – complete with an underwater mural on the wall and two comfy single beds.

It’d be ideal if you had a large family, or were doing an intergenerational holiday and taking the grandparents along, or if you’re travelling with another family. Or if you just want a bit of space on your relaxing holiday!

We had a great stay and the host was lovely to deal with – the home has a 10am checkout, but when I text her and asked if we could leave a little later due to the baby’s nap-time she was very accommodating. I’d definitely recommend this home!

The master bed, spacious upstairs, plus kid’s room, featuring an amazing aquatic mural.

Best spot for dinner:

This isn’t something I normally find myself saying, but, if you’re after a meal to please all the family that tastes delicious, head to the mall. Yip, Bayfair has some of the best spots to eat at the Mount. 

We ate in at Burger Burger, who do a great kid’s menu with four little burgers to choose from, plus fish and chips, or chicken popcorn and chips. There’s also plenty for parents to eat (and drink), as well as lots of good choices for anyone with allergies or dietary requirements.

If your kid is a bit more adventurous, or you’re opting for takeaways, where you can get something different for the kids, then, you have to go to Viet Lane. Again, this was a place so good, we ended up eating at twice. My personal picks are the Pho Stir Fried Noodles, the Pineapple Fried Rice and the Broccoli Garlic – but, to be honest, I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on this menu.

In Bayfair’s outdoor food area, you’ll also find a Mexico, Katsubi, Izakai, Nando’s and The Freeport with Cleaver and Co.

Best spot for some time out for mum:

Get yourself some R&R time by heading to a café BY YOURSELF, where you can eat a meal and slowly sip a coffee (while it’s still hot!). Bliss! Again, my café recommendation is Eddie & Elspeths, but you’re spoilt for choice in the Mount.

Then, get yourself booked in to Sanctum in the heart of the Mount for a massage or facial.

Best spot for some time out for Dad:

If there’s time for a day off for Dad, send him off for a day on Muirs Tours. There he’ll join former Māori All Blacks captain (and rugby legend) Deon Muir. You can customise your day – maybe by going fishing or scuba diving, where Deon will teach him about the kaitiaki of the local moana, why certain fishing techniques work better than others, and serve up some great yarns along the way.

Or, send him off for the arvo to Mt Maunganui Golf Club – a spectacular green on Fairway Avenue. It’s set up for visitors to play 6, 12 or 18 holes, with gear, clubs and carts all available for hire.

Top spot to spend an afternoon:

While the sun is shining, there’s no better spot to be than the beach. And, if your car was too chocka block with random kid paraphernalia to fit in any toys for the beach, fear not. One of my favourite things we came across was a toy library, right by one of the walkways through to the beach. There, we found lots of buckets, spades, toy trucks, and everything you’d ever hope for to make a perfect sandcastle.

Best place for gelato:

Gelato just tastes better when you down it right in front of the sea, which makes Monte Gelato a hard spot to go by. They serve up generous scoops of a range of delicious flavours of gelato, sorbet (and affogato or hot coffees in case you do need a bit of warming up after an autumn swim!).

Alternatively, head in a few blocks to Sea People on Maunganui Road. There you’ll find plant based ice-cream that is seriously delicious. The folks there make everything from scratch – including their house-made cashew and coconut milk blend plus their waffle cones.

Best spot to burn off some energy:
You can’t really go past the looming presence of the Mount itself – and if you’re looking for a sure-fire way to burn off your gelato, it’s the way to go. There are two tracks to choose from to reach the top of the 232m summit, where you’ll find a pretty exquisite view. It takes about 40 mins to walk up and does require a pretty good level of fitness, so if you’re taking the kids up, keep some energy in reserve because they may need some help in the final stretch.

Best spot on a rainy day:

Look, you’re already wet, so why not embrace it and head to the Mount Hot Pools. There’s a huge active salt water pool to play in that’s heated to a balmy 33 degrees, or large relaxation spas that are 39 degrees. There’s also some indoor private pools, as well as kids pools with mini slides and fountains. Plus, it’s in a prime location – right at the base of the Mount (making it also a perfect stop if you’ve braved the walk up the Mount).

Alternatively, head to Bayfair for a bite to eat, a shop and a play at Timezone.

Watch out for:

Traffic. Any time I leave Auckland, I assume that I am leaving snarled up traffic behind me, but unfortunately this just isn’t the case in the Mount and Papamoa. Be prepared to encounter a fairly slow journey, particularly if you’re driving at peak hours in the morning and evening (I.e. don’t do what I suggested we do, and get gelato at 4.30pm on the other end of the mount)

Alice was hosted by Booking.com. All activities were booked independently. Her opinions are entirely her own

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