Mount Manaia rises majestically 403 metres above the entrance of the Whangarei Harbour. The striking silhouette of the rock formations, remnants of volcanic action, provides the most iconic view of the whole district.
Mount Manaia is part of a chain of impressive, basalt peaks that rise majestically 403 metres above the entrance of the Whangarei Harbour. The striking silhouette of the rock formations, remnants of volcanic action, visible throughout much of the district, provides the most iconic view of the whole Whangarei district.
This is a vigorous one hour ascent up well maintained tracks, through beautiful native forest and with a number of spectacular look out points - pause at the Bluff Lookout (a slight detour on the way). The summit provides a breathtaking 360 degree vista including the harbour, Bream Bay, Hen and Chicken Islands and out to the ocean.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The Whangarei Heads area provides habitat for kiwi, kukupa (wood pigeon), the threatened native flax snail – pupuharakeke, bats, skinks, geckos, several bird species from offshore islands like kaka, kakariki (red-crowned parakeet) and bellbird. The area is alive with birdsong.
Mt Manaia stands alongside Bream Head as one of Northland’s most significant coastal forests with a large variety of beautiful broadleaf trees, totara and kauri, ponga (tree ferns) and manuka. You may also see mountain daisy, native forget-me-not and native angelica.
In Maori legend, Manaia is both a mythical monster, half bird and half fish, and also a local Maori chief. Legend tells that the five key rock formations represent five people, who appear to be running an eerie race across the mountain top, are the paramount chief Manaia, his two children, Pito the beautiful wife he stole from the chief Hautatu, and the aggrieved Hautatu in pursuit brandishing his mere (stone weapon). All five figures were turned to stone as they were struck by lightning by the God of Weather, Tāwhirimātea.
Maori chiefs were laid to rest on Manaia’s rocky outcrops and for this reason the highest part is still tapu (forbidden).
To this day, it is said Maori will not live in the shadow of Manaia.
Scottish settlers farmed the area from the 1850’s and a memorial to them can be seen at the start of the walkway.
Time: 1 hour to summit, 2hr return to carpark
Distance: 3.5 km
DOWNLOAD A MAP
This is a Department of Conservation maintained track, download a map and find out more here.