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 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, 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 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.
To enjoy the most of Maunga Hikurangi and learn the history behind the carvings book a tour with local Maunga Hikurangi(opens in new window) guides.
A tour is the best way to experience Maunga Hikurangi. There is an alternative access point, although you must obtain permission from Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou in advance to ask for permission. This entry is over private land.
The 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.
For many hikers, watching the sunrise is the main object of climbing Mount Hikurangi. To achieve this, you could 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 Maunga Hikurangi, over the mountains of Whanokao, Aorangi, Taitai, Wharekia and Otapu, will take your breath away.
Mount Hikurangi is located 130 kilometres north of Gisborne.