Auckland's 48 volcanic cones provide not only a unique landscape, but also some truly spectacular views
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, 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.
At 600 years old Rangitoto is Auckland's youngest volcanic cone, and the region's largest. Just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Rangitoto offers many activities for visitors, such as walking/hiking, fishing and sea kayaking. The Rangitoto Summit Track climbs through lava fields to the highest point on the island where you will discover panoramic vistas of Auckland City, the Hauraki Gulf and beyond.
Rangitoto is home to a wide variety of plant life and is considered especially significant as an example of ecological succession; during which the bare ground of raw lava fields eventually becomes established forest.
For more information about Auckland’s volcanic cones visit: www.aucklandnz.com/love/volcanoes-in-auckland