After climbing a steep flight of steps, we came to the crater. I love a natural pathway, especially a wavy one like this, with twists and turns. While waiting for Auckland’s summer to arrive, I’ve found that the beaches are not the place to be. Nearly every day is windy and cool. It’s almost the end of January and the first swim still hasn’t happened!  High on this volcanic cone, hidden in a leafy suburb of Auckland, the wind was so fierce that I wished I’d put rocks in my pockets.

 The photo doesn’t really show the steepness of the slopes down to the bottom of the crater. All around the ridge we found depressions in the ground, where there were once kumara pits. For this was a pa site (fortified village), and much of the terracing is still visible. You might get a sense of the perspective by seeing how small the sheep are down the bottom. The cone is called Te Kopuke.

 On the way to Te Kopuke I looked back, and saw the well-known cone of Maungawhau, the mountain of the ‘whau’ plant. Each summer I used to sit in Mt Eden village with other artists, under a big banner proclaiming ‘Artists in Eden’. We would paint or draw the mountain, and then give our works to be auctioned on the spot, to raise money to help young artists. I used to walk up this mountain frequently.

 But – back to Te Kopuke, the path turned a corner, and there in front of us was another well-loved cone: Remu-wera, a fine mountain that lies to the east.

 When I was doing my training in psychosynthesis psychotherapy, we students used to climb Remu-wera during the lunch break, to release and replenish.

 Far in the distance, to the south, we could see Maungarei, a cone which has been quarried in the past. From this perspective, the cut line is clear. The other large cone, which I haven’t photographed, is Maungakiekie, the one to which I have taken many visitors on their way from the airport to their lodgings.
From every one of these extinct cones, we get a view of the others. Te Kopuke is well situated for viewing. It reminds me of Auckland’s history, and the family of volcanoes on which we perch. We are assured that they are ‘not expected to erupt again’, and so we have settled this once-fiery peninsula, trusting that it will stay cool and stable.

Descending the steps after circling the crater, I could feel the wind subsiding. It certainly blew away all the cobwebs, and I felt happy to have explored this hidden gem.