Auckland sits on top of a large volcanic field that has produced around 53 volcanic scoria cones in the last 140 thousand years. Each of the cones is monogenetic, which means it was formed by a single bubble of magma that rose from deep within the earth. This means the next eruption is likely to occur on the thinner crusted areas between the existing cones.
Wherever you are in Auckland, a green volcanic cone is never far from view. Two of the more prominent examples are Maungawhau (Mount Eden) and Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill).
Maungawhau, meaning mountain of the whau tree, is the highest of all at 196 metres. It has an oval base caused by three in-line craters. Maungawhau's lava flows covered 5.6 square kilometres and the 'bubble' contained enough lava to fill 32,000 Olympic swimming pools. Maori people lived on Maungawhau until around 1700 when the pa (fortification) was abandoned. Changes to the natural shape of the cone are clearly visible today, providing evidence of Maori terracing, food pits and house sites.
Maungakiekie, meaning hill of the kiekie vine, was home to one of the largest Maori settlement structures in New Zealand and included three pa sites. Terracing and pits can be found all over the cone. The mountain has been a reserve since 1840 and in 1901 an affluent early Aucklander had the vision and generosity to gift his adjacent farm to the city as a park. Today they offer an extensive recreational area for visitors and the residents of Auckland. With walking tracks, glades of forest, picnic areas and paddocks of sheep and cattle, there is delightfully rural feeling to this inner city enclave.
Maungawhau, Maungkiekie and many of the other larger cones offer long-range, 360 degree views of the surrounding land and sea. Because Auckland is on a narrow isthmus you can easily see from one side of New Zealand to the other.
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This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at View full credits