Day 374 of Traveling the World, Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand. February 10, 2019.

Some things in life are just surprises. Today was one of them! We had faithfully attended all of the lectures describing our ports of call, what there was to do and see, and how to get there (shuttle bus, taxi, train, etc.). The lecture for today’s port did not say one word about the city and area of Mt. Maunganui; rather, it focused on the City of Tauranga, about 5 miles away; the City of Rotorua, about 50 miles away; and Hobbiton (with the movie sets from The Lord of the Rings trilogy), about 40 miles away. With a big sigh, we now realize that it was all so that the ship could sell tours, and wasn’t at all focused on independent travelers. This port is glorious!

Leaving the security area of the ship, we followed a boardwalk along a protected bay, with sailboats docked, kayakers, children splashing near shore, boogie boarders, and sunbathers. A gull is peacefully flying overhead in the second photo. It was relatively quiet and still. We were surprised that so many people were there, given that not a word was said about a beach. But, across the street from this beach were all residences, and we remarked how nice it would be if there were some restaurants and cafes, like a beach town. So we walked and walked, yawn. For this view, see the first three photos.

We are on a little “knob” of a peninsula, and when we came up to the actual mountain, we thought we would just have to turn back around. But the path continued across the knob for a little way, and we came to the next beach, on the open ocean side, no longer the protected bay. All the rest of the beach photos are from the other side. Wide open ocean! Waves and surf roaring the entire way, always a low rumble of constant water splashing up on shore! Surfers were out in the wild water…you can see them in one of the photos. No boats docked, as it was all just rocking and rolling. Across the street from this beach were all the restaurants and cafes we were missing on the first beach, just minutes away. It. Was. Glorious.

We sat at a cafe with a view of the wild beach with some great coffee, and it was warm and felt every bit like we were at an exotic beach resort destination. We didn’t want to leave. We came to an interesting realization about a life of travel: yesterday, we didn’t want to leave Napier, as it was so cute and inviting and we didn’t feel like we had had enough time there. But then, we felt that way today, having coffee in one of the nicest places we could imagine. You can’t enjoy a new place unless you leave the old! You don’t know what is down the road if you never venture out. You don’t come to love a new place if you hold on to the old place. Life is like that.

We end with two signs we saw in downtown Mt. Maunganui….also a surprise….blocks and blocks of retail and restaurants, a real downtown….all open on Sunday! Enjoy the poster messages and the photos!