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Tauranga’s one of my favourite spots in New Zealand so far. It’s just a lovely city, and Mt. Maunganui is just another highlight of the area. I hiked up to the top of it once again. The weather wasn’t quite as good, but there were still numerous people making the trek upwards, and the view from the top still very enjoyable after a sweaty hike up.

This time there was a bit more action at the top than before. With the sea-breezes coming off the bay and being driven straight up the sharp cliffs of Mt. Maunganui, this made a great spot for those wishing to fly.

There was probably 6-10 para and hang gliders up there today, simply hanging out. It was a pretty neat thing to see, they went upwards thanks to the wind more than down and could stay aloft for what looked like an indefinite time (as long as the winds held).

Looking out from the peak of Mt. Maunganui I looked for the one other difference I was curious to see – the container ship Rena. I didn’t spot it, but the ship is still out there, still grounded on the Astro-lab reef. The ship has been drained of it’s oil at this point, but now it has moved to recovery of all of it’s shipping containers, a slow process. The beautiful beach at Mt. Maunganui appears to have recovered from the damage the oil did – surfing, swimming and sunbathing were all fairly common activities once again. I didn’t look closely for any signs of the oil damage but there wasn’t any in direct evidence in the most popular spots. The clean up effort probably is still ongoing in other parts of the Bay of Plenty though. The damage from the oil was pretty wide-spread due to the tides and winds pushing it every which way.

Talk of the ship breaking up also have continued for at least a month, but the ship is still holding together. There is a huge crack in the middle of the ship that formed about a month ago, but it hasn’t split in two just yet. They say it’s only a matter of time, but have been saying so for a while. Once it does split it two, the officials aren’t sure what will happen – any remaining oil will be released, but whether they can tug-boat the free-floating half back to shore fast enough is uncertain. It might just sink.

Either way, I was glad to see the area appears to have recovered relatively well. And in some cases flourished. Because there was a ban on fishing in the area for a couple months, fish schools/stock in the bay are apparently at unheard of levels, with some types of fish that have rarely been seen in the area now in surprising abundance. So tasty and cheap fish and chips might be plentiful in the area for the next couple months.

I went back to my lovely camp and fed some amusingly friendly ducks.

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