Yesterday I climbed Mt Maunganui and then last night a fire ripped through, eating the lush green shrubbery and leaving char and ash in its stead.
But let me backtrack.
On Tuesday evening, on a whim, Jack and I decided to drive up New Zealand’s North Island to the Bay of Plenty and climb Mt Maunganui (really just a big hill, no major feat). We wanted to revel in the bays extra sunny weather, see the beaches and get some exercise. Our original plans involved climbing the Mt Maunganui on Thursday morning but decided after being in a car for four hours we really needed to stretch and walk it off.
So on Wednesday evening, up Mt Maunganui we went, not realising we were going to be one of the last hikers to see it in its natural state.
The view was spectacular, the ocean an inviting deep blue, and the city of Mt Maunganui sat peacefully below. It’s a little hard for me now, looking at all photographs of sheep I took not knowing if they made it through the blaze that night.
This wasn’t the post I wanted to write. I wanted to show you another beautiful location in NZ’s North Island (which never seems to get as much love as the South).
Sadly, the fire means that the Mountain will probably be blocked off for the rest of summer and many tourists are going to miss seeing the seriously gorgeous sight of the Bay of Plenty from on top of Mt Maunganui. It’s also going to take several years to regrow the shrubbery back to the dense bush it was pre fire. It won’t look the same for a while. I have a conflicting feeling of joy that I didn’t wait until the next morning to climb the hill and miss out on seeing it, knowing that those who visit after me will have to skip the experience.
At this time the jury’s out as to the cause of the fire, but I really hope it was an accident.
If you’re thinking of skipping Mt Maunganui now that you’re unable to climb the hill, please don’t – the town itself is lovely and the beaches ridiculously photogenic, with silky soft white sand and an easy going vibe.
Finally, my last photograph of Mt Maunganui in all his splendour:
Pin it to your New Zealand Bucket List Board: