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There is a safe car-park at the base of Mt Manaia, approximately 30 minutes drive from the city of Whangarei.
Excellent information boards explain the significance of Mt Manaia to local Maori and describe its volcanic origins. Other boards describe the flora and fauna you are likely to see. There is a memorial to the first European Settlers in the district - the Nova Scotians who had come from the Scottish Highlands via Australia to Waipu about 150 years ago. Hence many local place names eg McLeod Bay, McKenzie Bay, Urquhart Bay etc.
The track is a mix of wide gravel path and wooden staircases. It will take approximately one hour to reach the summit. About ten minutes from the top look out for an unmarked path off to the right. Take care not to go too close to the edge of this spectacular look-out! There are views into Taurikura Bay and across to the Bream Head range as well as over to Bream Bay.
The views from the summit will give you a good perspective of where you are in the Whangarei Harbour. You can see north towards Whangarei City, across to the oil refinery at Marsden Point, and south towards Ruakaka and Waipu.
Follow the same path back down to the car-park - it is usually considerably quicker!