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View from Mount Manaia

Mount Manaia's summit provides a breathtaking 360 degree vista of the Whangarei Harbour, Bream Bay, Hen and Chicken Islands and out to the ocean

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.

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 to enjoy (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.

The Whangarei Heads area is a 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, running an eerie race across the mountain top; the paramount chief Manaia, his two children, Pito the beautiful wife he stole from the chief Hautatu. The aggrieved Hautatu is 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.

A plaque, located at the start of the walkway, is dedicated to the memory of the district’s early European settlers, Scottish Highlanders with the names of McLeod, McGregor and Urquhart who gave their names to some of the area’s beaches. Find out more about their epic migration at the Waipu Museum.

Time: 1 hour to summit, 2hr return to carpark
Distance: 3.5 km

Strictly no dogs are allowed on this reserve or track.

View or download the Whangarei Heads Walks brochure [1.54MB] and other Whangarei Maps and Guides.

Mount Manaia,
Whangarei Heads, Whangarei, Northland

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