Aaron and Malika opened Mount Maunganui’s phenomenally successful café, The General, in 2017. But their connection to the Bay runs deep – right back through Aaron’s childhood. They love living in downtown the Mount and enjoy all it has to offer.
How long have you lived in the Bay and what initially brought you here?
Aaron: 35 years. I was brought up in the Bay, my family moved here when I was 3. During my adult career I spent many years overseas and in other parts of New Zealand. The Bay was always a place I came back to very frequently, and I always knew it would be the place I would come home to and settle eventually.
Having worked for, and alongside, some of the most extremes of wealth and poverty in this world, in such diverse environments, you really realise how lucky we are to come from New Zealand, and especially some wonderful pockets such as The Mount and Tauranga.
Malika: 16 months. The beauty, business opportunities, the people and of course my partner and his friends and family.
What do you love most about living in this region?
Aaron: All it has to offer. Within a 2km radius of where we live we have the surf, fishing and diving, the Mount itself up/or around, Pilot Bay and the harbour. Sunsets looking out to the Kaimais – a great spot as many know for takeaways or watching the cruise ships depart.
I also love the business precinct and being able to access so much on foot or bicycle.
The ease of accessibility to the industrial areas of the Mount serves as a real benefit for our business and other projects I have going on.
Within an hour you have multiple beautiful lakes to choose from, and within a few hours the mountains and the snow etc. Within 1-2 hours north or south there is the beginnings of the Coromandel and East Cape which have their own wonderful coastal environments.
The Bay has a growing and progressive local economy, and it’s really not hard to see why so many people are drawn to the place and have/ or are moving here: the lifestyle it offers within such short distance, if not right on your doorstep. In the summer, for example, at the very end of a day we can walk to the beach, swim, get home and have the BBQ on all within half an hour.
I have fond memories through my teenage years and early 20s of diving for plenty of scallops in the harbour less than a couple of kms from the Matua peninsula, kayaking to Rabbit Island and free diving for crayfish, and surfing as much as possible at the Mount and Matakana Island. My earlier memories when I was a much younger kid including riding my bike to Salisbury Wharf, or the old stone jetty under the Mount to catch fish for the cats!
Malika: The community, the natural beauty, the proximity and ease of having everything that we could ever want within walking or biking distance.
How would you describe our community vibe or Bay locals’ attitude to life?
Aaron: Pretty relaxed, again perhaps engrained with the lifestyle that surrounds them.
Malika: Relaxed and never take the place they are living in for granted.
What do you always recommend family or friends do when they visit?
Aaron: Walk up or around the Mount, visit the beach, walk along Pilot Bay. Take a surfboard if they’re keen and get out there!
What’s the Bay’s best kept secret?
Not really a secret I guess, but all of the above which surrounds and offers that lifestyle within the small radius downtown the Mount.
What do you think the Bay could be world famous for?
All within that 2km radius as mentioned above, and all that the cruise ship passengers see when they sail in and out of Mount Maunganui.
What would you say to convince people to holiday here?
This place has it all! For those who love the outdoors, the indoors or anything in between there is something for everyone at any age group. You can never ever get bored!