22 km return
7 - 8 hours one way
No cycling on this trail
No dogs on this trail
Information for this trail was last updated May 2024

Maunga Hikurangi is the sacred maunga of Ngāti Porou. It is also the highest non-volcanic mountain in the North Island (1,752 m) and the summit is the northernmost place where New Zealand's alpine vegetation can be seen. The peak is traditionally regarded as the first land in the world to catch the rays of the new day's sun. 

Nine larger than life carvings depicting the legends of Māui and his whanau have been mounted on a level area on a ridge two thirds of the way up the maunga. These were commissioned by Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou for the commemorative dawn of the new millennium, 2000. 

Another 80m and 20 minutes climb above the carvings, Hikurangi Hut built by Gisborne Canoe and Tramping Club in 1961, is a basic 10-bunk hut available for public use. It is now maintained by Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou, who also administer the hut bookings. Link to Maunga Hikurangi website

Access to the summit of Hikurangi Maunga follows a farm road across Pakihiroa Station (yellow markers), then a route marked by poles to the summit.  Above Hikurangi Hut, and after walking through stunted forest and alpine scrub and tussock, the top 400m up a steep scree slope is unmarked and not maintained. As a rough guide to times, Pakihiroa Station car park to Hikurangi Hut: 4 - 5 hr, Hikurangi Hut to summit: 2 - 3 hr. Be aware of seasonal restrictions as well as possible closures for short periods during the year for farming or cultural reasons. These irregular closures will be publicly notified.

Only attempt the track above Hikurangi Hut if you have backcountry tramping experience, including good wayfinding skills. This track is designed for walking during daylight hours only and is not safe to attempt in poor visibility. It's steep and the highest part has unstable footing.  Do not attempt this in conditions that are wet, windy, icy or visibility is poor. The weather in this alpine environment is unpredictable and can change rapidly. Expect rain, fog, cloud, strong winds, snow and extreme cold at any time of the year. Be prepared to turn back if weather conditions deteriorate. A map and elevation diagram of the track to Hikurangi Hut is shown on this page along with the topo map showing the track route to the summit.

Thank you to Graeme Atkins for allowing use of his photo of Maunga Hikurangi as the "cover" photo for this "trail tile".

Te Ara ki Hikurangi

Māui Whakairo and Hikurangi Hut

History of the trail

Rising above the rural community of Ruatoria, Maunga Hikurangi (1,752m) is a site of great spiritual, cultural, and physical significance for Ngāti Porou.  It is the iwi's most important icon, and in Māori mythology, was the first part of the North Island to emerge when Māui, an ancestor of Ngāti Porou, pulled it as a giant fish from the ocean. According to these beliefs, his wakaNukutaimemeha, became stranded on the mountain, and lies petrified near the mountain's summit. 

In the 1870s, the Crown acquired Hikurangi Maunga and turned it into a state forest park. In November 1990, ownership of the maunga  was returned to Ngāti Porou, who now manage the mountain, and facilitate the public's access to it.

Tips & Logistics

The track, Te Ara ki Hikurangi, starts 25 km from Ruatoria. Turn off SH 35 onto the Tapuaeroa Valley Road and follow the signs for Pakihiroa Station. There is a formal car park just below the station manager's house. There is no public vehicle access past this point.

Te Ara ki Hikurangi track crosses private farmland. Leave gates as you find them and don't disturb stock. 

As part of the Raukūmara Pae Maunga restoration programme, predator control operations for Raukūmara are being carried out in March 2024. Warning signs will be placed at access points prior to dropping cereal pellet baits containing biodegradable 1080 and will remain in place until the caution period is over. The treatment block will remain open. Link to DOC website

The track may be closed for short periods during the year for farming or cultural reasons. All closures will be publicly notified. 

Contact Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou before you start: Email: 

Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou offers tours of the Maui Whakairo (external site) (including options for hikers).