Are you ready for a walk? You need to be fit for this one, because we will be climbing the highest of Auckland’s cones.

 Most people drive to the top, but we can gently wind up the first part, following the paths and steps. The red colour of the path comes from the scoria that makes up the central part of the cone.

 Already we are high enough for some views to the south. The weather is a little cloudy and misty as we begin, but you can make out the shape of Owairaka (Mt Albert). This one is next on our list for exploring.

 But for now we will take a look at the revegetation planting, done no doubt by the ‘Friends of Maungawhau.’ I lived in the suburb surrounding this mountain for 22 years, and at that time the Friends were formed, with the intention of restoring the plant after which the mountain was named: the whau. You can see one doing very well at the top of this little cluster of new trees.

The whau has a white fluffy flower. Its wood is light, like balsa wood, and it was used by Maori to make fishing floats. Later, with cattle grazing the mountain, the whau disappeared because cattle love these lush leaves, but now the cattle are gone and the whau is forming its late summer seed-heads.

 As we climb higher we can look out to the last of Te Tatua a Riukiuta: the Three Kings. Sadly, the other two were quarried away.

 If you listen carefully, above the sound of the summer cicadas, you will hear the gurgling of many happy tuis. They love the nectar and pink berries of the puriri trees.

 It’s getting steeper now, and we have to scramble up the hillside. But the evening light is shining through the clouds, and revealing Ohinerangi (Mt Hobson), which featured in an earlier post.

We are also high enough to look down on the first volcano that we climbed in this series: Te Kopuke
This is the most hidden of them all, as if the trees that cover its slopes are all conspiring to keep it a secret.
We are on our way to the highest point on the Auckland ismuth. Governor Hobson who named the first mountain he climbed after himself, then named Maungawhau after his superior officer George Eden. As you see from the sign at the beginning of this post, the original Maori name is being used once more.
The best is yet to come. But for now we are tired from climbing and will take a wee break. Join me in the next post to discover a surprise at the summit.

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