• 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


Dreaming of visiting Maunga Hikurangi? Put the hike on your summer to-do list!

Find your adventure streak, and tackle the maunga so you can be at the top when the first ray of light makes its way over the horizon. 🌄

📷: @travelphotoskiwi 

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Nothing beats a golden sunrise! ☀ The views over the mountainous ranges look stunning as the light fills the sky. 

📷: @the_wanderer_photographer 

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
If you’re travelling along the East Coast this season, add Te Waha o Rerekohu – the largest Pohutukawa Tree in New Zealand – to your list of sightseeing activities! Pop into a local café on your way to your next destination 🌳🏖

📷: @purenewzealand 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #tewahaorerekohu #pohutukawa
As winter fades, the misty maunga is changing to welcome the earlier sunrises that spring is bringing! ⛰

Our tour up Mount Hikurangi to watch the sun rise over the surrounding mountains and valley is even more stunning during this time of year. 

Find out more here about our Te Urunga Sunrise Experience on our website. 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Mountain mist surround Irawhaaki, one of the nine carvings on Mount Hikurangi.

We are looking forward to sharing his story with you once we reopen our Maunga Hikurangi tours at level 1. 

Until then, stay safe in your bubble and enjoy the extra time you have to soak up the sunshine when it makes an appearance.

📷: Eric Hanson for @purenewzealand 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Even though our world may feel very disconnected right now, our respect for the sun and its attributes may connect us than we think. 

Now feels like the perfect time to learn about how other cultures also respect the sun. We look at a few in a recent blog. 

Visit our website’s blog section to

📷: @whencyclopedia 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #isegrandshrine
As our day begins and the sun rises over the maunga, we encourage you all to take a moment to step outside and appreciate the sun’s rays. 

These times during lockdown can be unpredictable. But just taking a moment to appreciate what we have around us will make this time more enjoyable. 

We hope you are keeping safe, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon. Kia haumaru te noho 🌄

📷: Eric Hanson for @purenewzealand 

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #nzlockdown
We love seeing the morning sun casting its rays on Maunga Hikurangi – it never gets old! The nine carved pou (pillars) depict Maui and his whanau, and they stand on the maunga waiting for the sun to rise each morning. 🌞🌄 

📷: @jesswawatai 

#nzwinter #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #maui
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