Visiting pilots

Welcome Kia ora

It's great to have visitors to our region to enjoy the beauty of our city and its historic mountain Mauao meaning to be caught by the light.

As local paragliders we recognise the importance and significance that Mauao has to the local iwi of Tauranga Moana and our communities. We expect that when visiting pilots/paragliders fly from Mauao that respect of the maunga (mountain) is foremost in your mind and awareness.

Please be aware of other users of Mauao, treat the experience as a privilege and enjoy its 360 degree views across Tauranga Moana which are breathtaking.

Mauao is a Historic Reserve under the Reserves Act 1977, and is private land owned by the Mauao Trust that is used and enjoyed as a public space. In order to maintain good relationships with the land owners and the joint Board (Nga Poutiri Ao O Mauao, which includes Tauranga City Council) it's vital we follow rules to ensure minimal disturbance to the public during our activities. Please ensure you:

1. Download the PDF document below to ensure you clearly understand our safety requirements, along with launch and landing locations

2. Fill out the online questionnaire below

3. Make contact with the Bay of Plenty Hang Gliding Paragliding Club (BoP HGPG Club) - refer to contact details in FAQs

Note: Failure to comply could see your visiting licence revoked.

The story of Mauao 

There was once a hill with no name among the many hills and ravines on the edge of the forests of Hautere. This nameless one was pononga, slave or servant, to the great chief Otänewainuku, the forested peak which stands as a landmark for the tribes of Tauranga Moana. To the south-west was the shapely form of the hill Puwhenua, a woman clothed in all the fine greens of the ferns and shrubs and trees of the forest of Täne. The nameless one was desperately in love with Puwhenua. Her heart was already won by the majestic form of the chiefly mountain Otänewainuku. 
There seemed no hope for the lowly slave with no name to persuade her to become his bride. The nameless one sorrowed. In despair he decided to end it all by drowning himself in the ocean, Te Moananui a Kiwa. He called on the patupaiarehe, the people with magical powers who dwelled in the forests of Hautere. They were his friends and they plaited the ropes with their magic to haul him from the hill country toward the ocean. As they pulled on their ropes, they chanted their magic chant:
                      Arise you who slumber                                        Cast your eyes heavenward 
                          Prepare ourselves                                           Toward Venus,the evening star,
                         Prove our manhood                                                    To light the path
                          Heave to the west                                               To the ocean of Tangaroa,
                          Heave to the south                                 The god who lures many into his embrace,
                       Move heaven and earth                                              Into eternal darkness.
                                It awakens,                                                   Alas the birds have awakened
                          It loosens, shudders                                                     Dawn has come.
The patupaiarehe chanted this song and hauled the nameless one from his place among the hills from Waoku. They gouged out the valley where the river Waimapu now flows. They followed the channel of Tauranga Moana past Hairini, past Maungatapu and Matapihi, past Te Papa. They pulled him to the edge of the great ocean of Kiwa. But it was already close to daybreak. The sun rose. The first rays lit up the summit of the nameless hill and fixed him in that place. The patupaiarehe melted away before the light of the sun. They were people of the night and they flew back to the shady depths of the forests and ravines of Hautere. 
The patupaiarehe gave a name to this mountain which marks the entrance to Tauranga Moana. He was called Mauao which means caught by the dawn, or lit up by the first rays of sunrise. In time, he assumed greater mana than his rival Otänewainuku. Later he was also given another name, Maunganui, by which he is now more often known. He is still the symbol of the tribes of Tauranga Moana:
                                                                                                   Ko Mauao te maunga
                                                                                                  Ko Tauranga te moana


Carving artwork: The legend of Mauao, by Fred Graham

10 facts about Mauao

1. Mauao is the focal point of the coastal Bay of Plenty.  

2. Standing at 232 metres high, Mauao is one of the most significant spots for tangata whenua (people of the land) and the local community.

3. Mauao Historic Reserve is private land owned by the Mauao Trust that is available, used and enjoyed by all as a public space.

4. A dormant volcanic cone, Mauao is a popular spot for activities. 

5. The base and summit tracks are used by over a million people each year. 

6. Rock climbers and paragliders are common sights on the mountain.

7. In addition to its role as a centre for outdoor activities, Mauao is of great cultural significance.  Tauranga’s three Iwi (tribes) – Ngati Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi, and Ngati Pukenga – regard Mauao as their most sacred maunga (mountain). An earlier iwi of Tauranga, Waitaha, also held Mauao in the same regard.

8. Mauao is a historic reserve that represents the physical remains of approximately 1000 years of human occupation. It is home to many pa sites, natural springs, nesting birds, native coastal forest and a friendly flock of sheep that graze on the cleared pasture areas.

9. Tangaroa, god of the sea, is the three metre statue on the western side of Mauao. Tangaroa reminds those venturing out to sea that they are entering his domain.

10. There's also a large rock named Te Kuia, this rock personifies a great elderly woman who once resided on Mauao. A local custom of boats and kayakers is to offer a koha (gift) to Te Kuia, in return for their safety while at sea.  

Mount Maunganui History

Until about 1910, Mount Maunganui was a sandy peninsula with a sprinkling of holiday cottages. Then Railway workshops were opened, which attracted a larger permanent population and led to the construction of the first commercial wharf.

Prior to the First World War the Mount Maunganui area constituted little more than a deserted sandy peninsula.  However, after the war, scattered settlements began to appear with the development of Mount Maunganui as a little-known holiday resort.

The fame of the area as a holiday resort spread, and the population continued to increase until Mount Maunganui became a Dependent Town District of the Tauranga County in 1927.  Ten years later, it was proclaimed an Independent Town District. Borough status followed in 1945, with Mr McDonald elected the first Mayor. The popularity of “The “Mount” as a beach resort grew rapidly.

Arataki Cultural Trails

Listen to mountains, rivers, and landmarks speak.

Arataki offer a self-guided fully immersive cultural walking experience. Their proximity storytelling product seamlessly connects users with authentic cultural content and information, at the right time, in the right location.

Arataki means “to lead, to point out, to guide”. Arataki Cultural Trails innovates and disrupts the art of cultural storytelling.

They are a technology company based in Tauranga, NZ, wholly owned and run by Māori tech entrepreneurs and have career backgrounds in Māori storytelling, technology and Iwi information. They have developed NZ’s first proximity based cultural content delivery platform and offer a self-guided fully immersive cultural walking experience. Their proximity storytelling product seamlessly connects users with authentic cultural content and information, at the right time, in the right location.

Founded in 2016, our goal is to create and share 1,000 stories by the year 2020 – Ngā Pūrākau Kotahi Mano.

Download App here to learn more about Mauao on your mobile device.

You can download information about the flying site here

Click here for the Visiting Pilot Form



BoP Hang Gliding Paragliding Club


Darrell Packe: Local instructor and Safety Officer

Mauao is private land under council management.

It's vital you contact us as Mauao has some tricky launch characteristics. We want to ensure you enjoy your visit.

Flying off Mauao is a privilage and we wish to be flying here for many years to come.

This involves maintaining good relationships with all parties involved. Your information helps us show that visiting pilots care enough to take the time to ensure you fly here safely and without risk to the public.

Yep SERIOUSLY - if you don't follow our requirements we will contact the New Zealand Hang Gliding Paragliding Association and have your visiting privilages revoked.



Megan Watts

Megan Watts

I have to say that Darrell's dedication to this sport is epic. His knowledge is invaluable, his attention to detail around the safety of all his students is unwavering and his encouragement is fantastic

View full testimonial »

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