• About Maunga Hikurangi – Ngati Porou’s crown jewel

About Maunga Hikurangi – Ngati Porou’s Crown Jewel

Maunga Hikurangi stands proud as the highest peak in the Raukumara ranges at 1754m – in fact, it is the highest non-volcanic peak in the North Island, its summit of alpine scree jutting into the sky. This height, and its easterly position, means Maunga Hikurangi is the first point in the world to see the sun’s rays every day. These qualities make it an incredibly sacred place to Ngati Porou – it features heavily in legend and it is a core part of our identity. It is also important as a place of abundant wildlife and food resources.


Maunga Hikurangi Gisborne


The mountain is steeped in Maori legend. When the demi-god Maui (founding ancestor of the Ngati Porou people) caught the giant fish that became the North Island, Maunga Hikurangi was the first point to be pulled up from the sea. The mountain is also said to be where Maui’s canoe now rests.

The nine larger than life carvings that stand on the mountain – an installation entitled Te Takapau a Maui – are related to Maui, his whanau (family) and his legends. The carvings were created by students from Toihoukura under the guidance of Sir Derek Lardelli and put in place in 2000 to commemorate the dawning of the new millennium, and their exquisite shapes and stories can be explored on the Te Urunga-Tu Sunrise experience.


To us, of Ngati Porou, the mountain is tied to who we are – you’ll hear it always in any of our mihi (introductory speeches):

Ko Hikurangi te maunga, Ko Waiapu te awa, Ko Ngāti Porou te iwi
(Hikurangi is the mountain I affiliate to, Waiapu the river, and Ngati Porou the tribe).

In the 1870s the crown took ownership of the mountain and surrounds and turned it into a state forest park. In 1990, 3780 hectares was returned to Ngati Porou – including Maunga Hikurangi. Pakihiroa Farm on the foothills of Maunga Hikurangi is Ngati Porou’s biggest operation, producing high quality sheep, beef and wool for export and employing many in the community.

Natural beauty

The mountain is the only known natural habitat of the Hikurangi tutu (Coriaria pottsiana). The nearby Raukumara forest park is rich with iconic native trees such as rata, rimu, tawa, kahikatea and beech – and birds are plentiful including tui, fantail, kereru, and even kaka and kiwi. Introduced deer and pigs make hunting a popular pastime (and source of local wild food) in the area as well. Deer and pigs, along with possums, rats and stoats, are pests that drive native species to local extinction and also destroy the ngahere (forest).

There is a public walking track that leads to the summit, but visitors must always contact Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou before arriving because sometimes the track is closed for cultural or farming (eg lambing) reasons.

November 1, 2020


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