Maungawhau means ‘ hill of the whau tree’.
Like nearby Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill, Maungawhau was an enormous Māori pā - a citadel built for thousands of inhabitants.
Some of Maungawhau’s original pā earthworks have been lost or damaged by quarrying, and the construction of roads, parking areas and water reservoirs, but there is still much evidence of the former layout of the pā.
On the outer slopes there are numerous flat terraces used mainly for living and working space. Many pits for crop storage were dug on the terraces and around the crater rim. You can see some of these pits today as you walk around the crater rim track.
There was also a series of defended strongpoints on the highest crest of the maunga, though there is no evidence of ditch or bank defences at Maungawhau, which is unusual for a highly defended mountain pā site.
The crater was known as Te Kapua kai a Mataaho - ‘the food bowl of Mataaho’, the deity responsible for volcanic activity.
At 196m tall, Maungawhau or Mount Eden is the highest volcano in Auckland.
Maungawhau is a large, elongate scoria cone consisting of two overlapping cones which erupted in close succession about 28,000 years ago. The older, lower northern cone had its crater filled with scoria ejected by second eruption. The southern cone is the youngest and tallest, with an impressive crater 180 meters in diameter and 50 meters deep.
When Maungawhau erupted, lava flowed out around the base of the cone and across the valley below in all directions. The earlier flows spread northeast to present-day Khyber Pass Rd and Newmarket, southwest to Balmoral Rd, and west around Gribblehirst Park in Morningside. Later flows were cooler and thicker, traveling a shorter distance and forming a steep-faced rock base around the maunga.
From the summit, you can enjoy spectacular views over the city, harbours and network of other maunga.
To recognise the cultural, historic and archaeological significance of the maunga, the summit road and the tihi (summit) at Maungawhau / Mt Eden was permanently closed to private motor vehicles, including motorbikes and scooters, in January 2016. It was the first maunga to be returned to a pedestrian space under the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.
The widely supported outcome respects the spiritual and cultural significance of the tihi to Mana Whenua, as well as community aspirations.
Those who are unable to walk to the tihi, or their driver, can obtain a keypad access code on the day of their visit. This lowers the bollards at the entrance to the summit road so they can drive to the tihi. Call 09 379 1340 to discuss your access needs and request a vehicle access code.
Pedestrians and cyclists on non-motorised bicycles have unrestricted use of the summit road. Please observe the 20km speed limit and look out for pedestrians using the summit road.
Maungawhau, along with the other Tūpuna Maunga across Tāmaki Makaurau, is on a tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage status, and a major part of a bid is demonstrating that unique heritage values are being properly protected.
At Maungawhau, the footfall of over one million visitors per year had caused significant rutting along the dirt tracks around the crater rim, contributing to erosion of sensitive features. A solution was needed.
In August 2020 we celebrated the opening of a new boardwalk around the crater and tihi (summit) of Maungawhau, which includes a viewing deck with panoramic views over the CBD, Waitematā Harbour, and the network of Maunga.
The boardwalk provides long overdue protection for the historic features that are the last remnants of the pā, built on the Maunga around 1200AD. Visitors can now appreciate these features without causing damage, as the boardwalk carefully winds through the tūāpapa (terraces) where the houses and gardens of the pā once sat, and the rua (pits) which were roofed for storing crops.
Extensive planning for the project included a review of sites around the world, such as the boardwalks at Yosemite National Park and the trails around Stonehenge.
Minimal disturbance to the landscape was top priority in the build, and all materials can be fully recycled at the end of their life. It uses materials that will naturally weather over time and are permeable to the elements, allowing grass growth and ground stability beneath. Allowing the flow of air, water and light through the boardwalk also helps restore the wairua (spirit) and mauri (life essence) of Maungawhau. The boardwalk also follows the contours of the Maunga to minimise the visual impact.
Completing the tihi loop and boardwalk
In July 2022, works begin to extend the boardwalk around the crater rim to the tihi (summit) and carpark area.
The boardwalk extension will create a safe and durable walking surface around the crater rim. It will provide a quality visitor experience while preventing further damage to the underlying cultural and archaeological values of the Maunga.
Construction is expected to take nine months with completion in March 2023.
The already constructed northern sections of the boardwalk will remain open to visitors.
For health and safety considerations, there will be no access to the tihi or tihi carpark for the duration of the works. This will include times where there is limited activity onsite, while boardwalk components are fabricated offsite. Due to the nature of volcanic scoria and basaltic lava, the construction and fabrication are interdependent and cannot be staged otherwise.
Te Ipū Kōrero and café
In a parallel project, Te Ipū Kōrero o Maungawhau (the visitor experience centre) and a reinvigoration of the adjoining café will reopen the kiosk in early July 2022.
Public toilets are also to the right of the roundabout on Puhi Huia Road, beside the dedicated parking area for tour buses. There is also a toilet at Normanby Road playground.
There are four visitor car parks at Maungawhau:
- to the left of the roundabout on Puhi Huia Road
- to the right of the roundabout, below the old Tea Kiosk building
- in Tahaki Reserve
- at the playground on Normanby Road
Parking time limits are enforced to give all visitors equal parking opportunity.
Main entrance gate opening times:
Times align to Daylight Savings.
250 Mount Eden Road, Mount Eden, Auckland