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Auckland's metropolitan area sits on top of a volcanic field that includes 55 cones. Most of the volcanoes are extinct, but the area itself is considered dormant.
A green volcanic cone is never far from view whenever you are in Auckland. Two of the most prominent are Mount Eden (Maungawhau) and One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie).
Maungawhau (Mount Eden)
Maungawhau, meaning mountain of the whau tree, is 196 metres high and the highest natural point in Auckland. Less than ten minutes south of the city centre, a climb up to the summit is a must-do - you will be rewarded by panoramic 360-degree views over the city and harbour.
The volcano has an oval base caused by three in-line craters. Its ancient lava flows covered 5.6 square kilometres and its 'bubble' contained enough lava to fill 32,000 Olympic swimming pools.
Maori people lived on Maungawhau until around 1700, when the Waiohua tribe defeated the Tamaki people and the pa (fortification) was abandoned. Changes to the natural shape of the cone are clearly visible today, providing historic evidence of Maori terracing, food pits and house sites.
Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill)
Maungakiekie, meaning hill of the kiekie vine, was home to one of the largest Maori settlement structures in New Zealand and included three pa (hillfort) sites. The historic inhabitants terraced the hill extensively, and it is the largest prehistoric earthworks fortifications worldwide.
The iconic Maungakieie is an extensive recreational playground for Aucklanders and visitors alike - with walking tracks, glades of forest, picnic areas and paddocks of sheep and cattle, there is a delightfully rural feeling to this inner-city enclave. Spend a day exploring the historic Maori sites and forest glades, and don't forget to bring a picnic to eat while admiring the beautiful harbour and city views.
Many of Auckland's other volcanoes offer panoramic views of the surrounding land and sea, including the 600-year-old island volcano of Rangitoto.