It's not all surf and waves in the Bay

You should have been here yesterday,” is an iconic quote from Bruce Brown’s legendary film The Endless Summer and it's also a saying surfers never want to hear. As a surfer scoring a great session at a new spot fills you with anticipation, but swell and ocean conditions might not be ideal on the day or days that you are traveling through.

Instead of getting too down about it check out our top 10 list of things to do when the surf is flat - it's sure to make you smile!

Mount Maunganui Summit Walk RE


Get your endorphins flowing with a hike to the top of Mauao (30-40 minutes up) which will leave you just as puffed as a tough paddle out and the views from the top are world class!

On a clear day, Waihī Beach and the Coromandel Peninsula are visible to the northeast, Karewa, Tuhua Mayor Island), Moutohorā (Whale Island) and Mōtītī island offshore, Pāpāmoa and Maketū to the South East and Tauranga Harbour, Otumoetai and Matakana Island to the west. A true 360 degree view from the top will leave you just as breathless as the stairs did on your way up!

Dolphin Bay Explorer


So it’s flat... that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you're heading out on a boat! AND it’s even better if that boat is taking you out to see dolphins, whales, seals and more! Bay Explorer and Dolphin Seafaris both offer amazing day trips to view and learn more about the REAL Bay of Plenty locals. Depending on the time of year, you may be lucky enough to spot orca, southern wright whales, sunfish, turtles, seals and dolphins.  

KatieCox rocktopia 1


If the weather isn’t great for surfing, it might not be great for the outdoors either. Still want to get your heart rate up and challenge yourself physically and mentally? Rocktopia is a world class indoor rock climbing facility located in central Mount Maunganui. There are rock walls to suit all levels of fitness and expertise. Not to mention the clip n’ climb system gives you the freedom to try your best at a selection of courses without having to rely on a belay buddy if you are flying solo.  

TBOP Winter 48


Whether you want to keep your paddling muscles in shape and swim a few laps in the tepid pool or let those muscles rest and relax under jets, the Mount Hot Pools are a great place to take in views of Mauao while getting your gills wet at the same time. Thermally heated, the Mount Hot Pools are a great place for the whole family to soak and swim. If you're after a quieter experience, private rooms are available for you to enjoy a peaceful soak.  

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Surf conditions are not always predictable, however at The Rising Tide the beer on tap is always cold and delicious. Instead of a wave, catch a brew. The Rising Tide has over 40 beers on tap and a selection of ciders and wine too. While you're there don’t miss out on Johney’s Dumplings served in house, a local favourite

KatieCox PilotBay


So the weather is onpoint, but there just isn’t any swell. Get salty anyway with Mauao Adventures. Rent a SUP and explore Pilot Bay. Want to learn more about the region and the cultural significance and history of Mauao and Tangaroa, turn your rental into a guided paddle tour with Porina or one of her amazing guides.  

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On a summer's day there is plenty of entertainment on Salisbury Wharf. Watch the local kids have “bomb” competitions and what the fisherman are catching all while watching the HUGE cargo ships and tugboats come and go from the bustling Port of Tauranga. All of this activity might make your tummy rumble? Grab some fresh fish and chips or an ice cream from Pilot Bay fish n’ Chips on the wharf, lay your towel down and call it a picnic! Enjoy the show! 

KatieCox glowwormwalk 1


The glow worm walk at McLaren Falls Park will be the closest you can get to “being in the green room” when the surf is flat, and this green room is out of this world! The steep walls that surround the marked waterfall walk at McLaren Falls Park make for the perfect glow worm habitat. Arrive at the park about an hour before sundown to make sure the gates are still open. Follow signs to the waterfall walk, either wait for dark along the walk or enjoy a sunset picnic near the lake. The glow worms will start to show about an hour after the sun sets. Bring a head lamp to navigate the trail, turn it off... let your eyes adjust and your mind be blown.

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The surf scene in Pāpāmoa is on the rise and The Island (formerly the Pāpāmoa Tavern), is there to serve up delicious burgers, pizza and beer to it’s hungry customers in a quirky beachy atmosphere. There are several different eateries and brew houses on the same property so pick your spot based on your mood. Go have a look, you won’t be disappointed.  

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Hola! Surfers and Mexican food go hand in hand. Get your hot sauce on at Barrio Brothers, located in downtown Mount Maunganui. Burritos, quesadillas and cervezas muy bueno, or as Kiwis would say “Sweet as!”