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

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

The legend

Tairāwhiti Gisborne
Maunga Hikurangi, Tairāwhiti Gisborne

The mountain is sacred to the local Ngāti Porou people. 

Māori legend from this region suggests that when the demigod Māui fished up the North Island of New Zealand, Maunga 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 whakairo (Māori carvings) 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.


The experience

Tairāwhiti Gisborne
Maunga Hikurangi, Eastland, Tairāwhiti Gisborne

A tour is the best way to experience Maunga Hikurangi. To enjoy the most of mountain and learn the history behind the carvings, book a tour with local Maunga Hikurangi(opens in new window) guides.  

There is an alternative access point, although you must obtain permission from Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou in advance. This entry is over private land.  

The Te Ara ki Hikurangi track(opens in new window) is located on Pakihiroa Station, which is at the end of the Tapuaeroa Valley Road, 20 kilometres inland from Ruatōria. There is a carpark just below the station manager's house. 

For many hikers, watching the sunrise is the main object of climbing Maunga Hikurangi. To achieve this, you could hike to the accommodation hut in the afternoon, stay the night, 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 Maunga Hikurangi, over the mountains of Whanokao, Aorangi, Taitai, Wharekia and Otapu, will take your breath away.

Need to know

Maunga Hikurangi is located 130 kilometres north of Gisborne.

Public access to Maunga 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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