With more than seven pa sites and spectacular views of the coast and harbour, a picnic in this park is both scenic and educational.
Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park (Te Rae o Papamoa) includes a number of important pre-European archaeological features. The sites have significance to three iwi (Maori tribal groups) - Ngaiterangi, Ngati Pukenga (of Mataatua) and Waitaha A Hei (of Te Arawa). There are at least seven pa sites (forts) in the park, and others can be seen in the surrounding landscape. Archaeologists suggest the human history of Papamoa hills dates back to about 1650 AD or even earlier. The hills were strategically important to local tribes, making it possible to control the south-eastern access to Tauranga Moana and the coastal strip down to Maketu.
Papamoa Hill is the highest point in the park - 224 metres above sea level. There is a walking track from the car park to the summit, which passes through pine forest up to the open ridge. You need to allow about two hours for the return journey. From the top of the hill you can see Mauao (Mount Maunganui's volcanic cone), Tauranga Harbour and Whale Island.