• 7 Things to Pack for your Te Urunga-Tu Sunrise Experience

Watching the world awaken at dawn from a spot high on Maunga Hikurangi, surrounded by nine enormous carvings and listening to the fascinating stories about them, is an all-consuming experience. When you ascend Maunga Hikurangi by starlight with our local Ngati Porou guides to do just that, there are a few things to bring that will make the tour even better or more comfortable.

Here’s our list of 7 things we recommend packing:


Picture this: the golden hour of sunrise and magnificently carved pillars in the foreground. The sun rises, the clouds slowly brighten from a rosy pink to a fiery red, and the clear sky gets that pinky-orange blush fading up to a vibrant blue. There’s no photo opportunity quite like it. And once the sun is up, it casts a warm glow over the magnificent farmland, forest, and other peaks around you. All this combined with good friends, the carvings and the stories from the guides makes for some photos with seriously amazing vibes!

Whether it’s a proper DSLR that you have, or simply the camera on your phone, you’ll want to capture these moments forever.

Appropriate footwear

When exploring New Zealand’s stunning high country, be prepared for the ground not being perfectly level. A solid, stable pair of shoes will go a long way. The site has a lot of loose rock especially when clambering up to the higher plateau to take photos, so boot-type footwear with a heel is recommended; think of it as your brake when descending. The site can also be quite wet if there has been recent rain, so reliable footwear is a must. Also, because you will be riding an all-terrain quad to reach the plateau, open-toed shoes are not permitted.

Layers of Clothing

Even if you’re doing the sunrise experience in summer, that pre-dawn mountainside chill while you’re waiting for the sun to come up can really bite. So make sure you’re dressed for the occasion. The weather can also be highly changeable in a mountain environment – that perfect clear-sky weather forecast can turn grey in an instant.

Wearing a warm base layer with a jacket on top makes all the difference, and a warm hat and gloves keep those extremities cosy. Pack a raincoat into a backpack too, just in case!


We provide headlamps, but you may wish to bring your own if you have one that fits you well and that you prefer using on outdoor adventures. It makes for a smoother ascent with a light source strapped to your forehead rather than having to carry one by hand!


At sunrise, the sun is obviously much closer to eye level than it is during the day. On a clear morning, keep those peepers comfortable with some good UVA/UVB-screening sunglasses.

Image: @nance.reed04 via Instagram

Gardening gloves

These are not compulsory, but for those with more sensitive hands it may be preferable to bring a preferred pair of gardening gloves; you will have the opportunity to plant a seedling as part of the eco-project on the maunga, which is fantastic for the environment and also for the soul.

Your appetite

We provide some delicious kai (food) on the mountain after your sunrise experience. Locally sourced and presented in a harakeke (flax) basket, we endeavour to be sustainable in all that we do. We also strive to deliver some delicious local East Coast hospitality!

We hope you enjoy your Te Urunga-Tu Sunrise Experience. Take the right gear, soak up the atmosphere, and enjoy this sunrise journey through Ngati Porou culture and history.

May 5, 2021


The seed planting that all visitors get to take part in on one of our tours is for the purpose of native plant re-generation on Maunga Hikurangi. Local, native trees in Raukumara Forest Park include rata, rimu, tawa, totara, kahikatea and beech. 🍒🌲

Be part of the eco-project by joining one of our tours, and experience the incredible views - perfect for a photo opportunity!

Discover more on the ‘Experiences’ page of our website.

📷: @belinda.macdonald 

#nzwinter #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #kahikateaberries
Winter is upon us, yet the sun still rises each morning over Maunga Hikurangi. Join us for a day of culture on our Haramai Day Tour Experience! Stand with nine huge, carved sculptures as you listen to stories of our local history.

Find out more on our website under ‘Experiences’. 

#nzwinter #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #suncarvings
A great shot of the first glimpse of sunlight from up here on Maunga Hikurangi! @lisaexplorerku started her hike up the maunga at 3:45am to make the most of her trip! 😲 It looks like it was well worth it to get this picture of the sun casting its golden rays 🌞✨

 📷: @lisaexplorerku 

#nzwinter #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Matariki, the Māori New Year, te Tau Hou Māori, was on June 24th. This is best the time to celebrate the past year with family and friends, and to look forward to the future. How did you celebrate over the weekend?

Maunga Hikurangi is the first place in the world to see the start of the new year. ✨🙌

📷: @matarikifestivalakl 

#nzwinter #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #matariki
We are getting into the peak of winter now! But misty Maunga Hikurangi will still provide a spectacular sunrise on those clear mornings. If you’re planning to view the first light from the top of our maunga, be sure to wear lots of layers, appropriate footwear and a headtorch. The brisk air will surely wake you up ⛰🌞🧤

Check out our latest blog on our website to see what else you might want to bring.

📷: @mattcrawfordphoto 

#nzwinter #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
The winter school holidays are quickly approaching. Looking for something a little bit different to do with the kids? Bundle up and try a day trip with us to the top of Maunga Hikurangi. Less of a commitment for the kids in your group than our sunrise tour, the Haramai Day Tour Experience takes about 4 hours, includes a light lunch featuring local produce and an exhilarating 4WD adventure! 🏔😎

#maungahikurangi #haramaidaytour #tairawhitigisborne #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
We pride ourselves on being the first to see the sun’s light each day. But our region is home to a number of famous lookouts to watch the sun rise and set from, like the iconic East Cape lighthouse. 

About 20kms from Te Araroa, enjoy a scenic drive there followed by a 20 minute walk up to the lighthouse itself. It might not be as tall as Maunga Hikurangi, but it’s a slice of history and makes for a great Instagram shot while you’re here! ♥

📷: @tairawhitigisbornenz 

#beachraces #carpediem #adventure ##tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Everyone who does our Te Urunga-Tu Sunrise tour has a unique experience. Greeting the sun’s first rays and planting a native seedling is truly memorable. If you’ve made it to the top of our maunga, what was your highlight?

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Aside from the beautiful views and landscape, our tours also offer a taste of local cuisine and produce. This nourishing lunch prepared by Hati Nati café of kumara salad, kangawaru (a sweetbread made from kumara, corn grit and flour), fruit and juice is a welcome bite after pushing to the top of our maunga! Well done, and hello world! 🥪🌱

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
No one can deny the comfort and warmth of a classic Kiwi pie. But what about a paua pie? This unique spin on a cultural fave is what roadside hot spot, Café 35 in Tokomaru Bay,has become known for. So stop in and step up your pie game today! 🥧☕ 

📸: @cafe35toko

#cafe35 #tokomarubay #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #firstlight #ruatoria #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa