Te Mata Peak
Te Mata Peak Road, Havelock North
Rising 399m above sea level, the peak is steeped in Maori legend. It is said that Maori chief Te Mata O Rongokako, ancestor of the Ngati Kahungunu iwi, fell in love with the daughter of his rival, the Heretaunga chief. To prove his worthiness and win the beautiful Maori maiden’s love, Rongokako accepted a series of near-impossible challenges. The handsome chief choked and died attempting his final task, which was to eat his way through this rocky range.
Te Mata Peak depicts the outline of his body and is called the Sleeping Giant by locals.
Visitors can drive, cycle or walk through 98 hectares of parkland on a series of well graded walking tracks. The round trip takes about two hours but shorter walks, suitable for both leisure and more active walkers, are signposted along the way. For maps and tracks and more info see www.tematapark.co.nz
You can book a 2 hour cultural tour of Te Mata Peak and the Pou or a 4 hour tour which also includes visiting Waimarama and the ancestral lands of Maori with Waimarama Maori Tours. Let one of their elders share with you these sacred sites: the bush lore, the folk lore, the culture and the language: all of which continue to shape the hopes and aspirations of the people today.
The peak also provides prime soaring sites for hang gliding and paragliding, mountain biking and road cycling, abseiling, orienteering and Nordic walking. There is unique and unusual flora and fauna and spectacular limestone cliffs.
There are no public toilets within the park.
If you're keen to walk to the summit of Te Mata Peak, but a little worried about the fitness level required, try the yellow track first. This track eases into the walk with gentle climbs and plenty of places to stop along the way to take in the view and catch your breath.
Make sure you have your sunscreen on, the tracks nearer the top of Te Mata Peak are mostly open with little tree shade.