Mount Hikurangi

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The sunrise of a lifetime is waiting at the summit of Mount Hikurangi. Watch the new day dawn before anybody else in New Zealand.

The highest peak in the rugged Raukumara Range, and the highest non-volcanic mountain in the North Island, Mount Hikurangi (1,754 metres) is recognised as the first point on the New Zealand mainland to greet the morning sun.

The mountain is sacred to the local Ngāti Porou people. Māori legend suggests that when the demigod Māui 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 Māui used on that famous fishing trip.

One thousand metres above sea level and two thirds of the way up the mountain stands nine carved whakairo (sculptures) depicting Māui and his whānau (family). The centrepiece represents Māui 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 Ngāti 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 Pakihiroa 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 Runanganui o Ngāti 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 Māui Whakairo, guided walks, hut bookings and permission to access the track, please contact Te Runanga o Ngāti Porou on 06 864 9004, or email info@tronp.org.nz

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Need to know

Public access to Mt Hikurangi will be CLOSED from:

  • 12 noon on 31 December to 12 noon on 1 January each year for the Hikurangi Maunga Dawn Event.
  • 1 October to 31 October each year due to farming operations (lambing season).

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