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The highest peak in the rugged Raukumara Range, and the highest non-volcanic mountain in the North Island, Mount Hikurangi (1754 metres) is recognised as the first point on the New Zealand mainland to greet the morning sun.
The mountain is sacred to the local Ngati Porou people. Maori legend suggests that when the demigod Maui fished up the North Island of New Zealand, Mount Hikurangi was the first point to emerge from the sea. The mountain is also said to be the resting place of the waka (canoe) Nukutaimemeha, which Maui used on that famous fishing trip.
One thousand metres above sea level and two thirds of the way up the mountain stand nine carved whakairo (sculptures) depicting Maui and his whanau (family). The centrepiece represents Maui himself, while the other eight carvings are positioned to mark the points of the traditional compass. Created to celebrate the new millennium, the whakairo stand as a tribute to the cultural heritage of Ngati Porou, and as a legacy for future generations.
There are two ways to venture up Mount Hikurangi – on a 4x4 tour or on foot. The start of Te Ara ki Hikurangi track is located on Pahikiroa Station, which is at the end of the Tapuaeroa Valley Road, 20 kilometres inland from Ruatoria. There is a carpark just below the station manager's house. Because the track passes through private land, you'll need to contact Te Runanga o Ngati Porou in advance for permission to use it.
For many hikers, watching the sunrise is the main object of climbing Mount Hikurangi. To achieve this, it's best to hike to the accommodation hut in the afternoon, stay the night, and then rise two hours before daybreak to complete the journey to the summit. The hut is located 3-4 hours’ climb up the mountain from the car park (10.5km).
The break-of-dawn view from Mount Hikurangi, over the mountains of Whanokao, Aorangi, Taitai, Wharekia and Otapu, will take your breath away.
Mount Hikurangi is located about 130km north of Gisborne. For 4x4 tours to the Maui Whakairo, guided walks, hut bookings and permission to access the track, please contact Te Runanga o Ngati Porou on 06 864 9004, or email email@example.com.