Te Mata Peak is at the western boundary of the wine-producing Heretaunga Plains and stands nearly 400 metres above sea level. From the summit of the peak you can enjoy panoramic views of the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru Ranges and Cape Kidnappers. The volcano Ruapehu, in the centre of Tongariro National Park, is also visible on a clear day.
The nature trails on Te Mata Peak are great for hikers and mountain bikers. It's an excellent cardio workout going up, but the huge views make the exertion totally worthwhile. Other hiking and biking trails in the Te Mata Trust Park lead through forest and along limestone valleys.
The Te Mata hillscape has an amazing story to tell: Many centuries ago the people living in pa (fortified villages) on the Heretaunga Plains were under constant threat of war from the coastal tribes of Waimarama. At a gathering in Pakipaki (near Hastings), a wise old woman (kuia) suggested that the leader of the Waimarama tribes, a giant named Te Mata, could be made to fall in love with Hinerakau - the daughter of a Pakipaki chief - and turn his thoughts from war to peace. This mission was quickly accomplished, and Te Mata fell under the spell of the beautifully Hinerakau.
However the people of Heretaunga had not forgotten the past and wanted revenge. They demanded that Hinerakau make Te Mata prove his devotion by accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks. His last task was to bite through the hills between the coast and the plains, so that people could come and go with greater ease.
Te Mata died while eating his way through the hills. His half-accomplished work can be seen in what is known as The Gap or Pari Karangaranga (echoing cliffs) and his prostrate body forms Te Mata Peak.