Auckland’s 48 volcanic cones provide not only a unique landscape, but also some truly spectacular views.
You can spot the Auckland volcanoes dotted across the region – just look for the tell-tale green pastures – and many of them are also home to lush parkland just perfect for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
New Zealand is part of the 'Ring of Fire' that stretches around the edge of the Pacific Ocean and where a large proportion of the Earth's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
Here are some of the more easily accessible volcanic summits, which offer some fantastic Auckland experiences for visitors of all ages. Don’t forget some comfortable shoes and your camera.
Rangitoto - Te Rangi-i-totongia-a-Tama-te-kapua
Rangitoto Island is arguably Auckland’s most iconic natural landmark, with its distinctive symmetrical cone and superb location just off the coast.
You can explore by foot or, for the complete experience, hop on the Fullers Volcanic Explorer tour, where you’ll enjoy a scenic ferry ride across the harbour and a fascinating guided tour on a 4WD road train to the top. You’ll walk through New Zealand’s largest pohutukawa forest, see the lava caves and be blown away by the breathtaking views from the 260 metre high summit.
Rangitoto is Auckland's most recently formed volcano, coming unexpectedly into existence about 600 years ago as a result of violent eruptions. Amazingly, although the island’s lava field contains no soil in the usual sense of the word, more than 200 species of native trees and flowering plants, more than 40 kinds of fern and several species of orchids grow on the island.
This is one of Auckland’s most popular activities so be sure to book.
Mount Eden - Maungawhau
At 196 metres high, Mount Eden - Maungawhau in Māori - is the highest of the Auckland volcanoes. Cycle or climb up to the summit for a stunning expansive outlook over the city and the Waitemata Harbour beyond.
Formed some 20,000 to 30,000 years ago, Mount Eden features three main craters in a row, creating an oval shape covered in lush green parkland. Occupation terraces, storage pits and housing sites give a glimpse into former Māori settlement.
The Ngati Whatua tribe is the guardian of the mountain and you can enjoy a guided walk - Tamaki Hikoi - of the mountain and its surrounds, led by a tribe member who will unlock the mountain’s rich history.
Toru Tours offers a one day tour of Auckland that includes a visit to both Mount Eden and One Tree Hill among its activites.
Please note that vehicles are no longer able to drive to the top; the ban applies to all vehicles, including motorbikes and scooters. This change has been made to reduce congestion so visitors can safely explore this special place, and respects the spiritual and cultural significance of the summit to mana whenua, the original Māori inhabitants of Auckland.
One Tree Hill - Maungakiekie
One Tree Hill - Maungakiekie in Māori - is one of Auckland's largest and most culturally significant volcanoes. The highest point is topped with a monument, and the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell, the 'founding father' of Auckland City.
With more than 170 constructed terraces based around three Māori Pa (fortifications), One Tree Hill is one of the largest former Māori settlement complexes in New Zealand, and has even been claimed to be the largest pre-historic earth fort in the world.
The volcano sits amongst the beautiful grassy parkland and gardens of Cornwall Park, where you’ll see many visitors and locals out on a sunny day - not to mention the sheep and cattle that still graze on the land.
And if you’re visiting in spring, you’ll be amazed at the gorgeous cherry blossoms in bloom throughout the park.
Opening hours may vary, check here for up-to-date information.
Mount Victoria – Takarunga & North Head - Maungauika
These two volcanic cones sit side by side in the scenic suburb of Devonport, surrounded by sweeping sea views. The walk to Mount Victoria’s summit takes around 10-20 minutes, and you’ll be rewarded with vistas across the North Shore, the Hauraki Gulf and across to the city. Kids love the colourfully painted mushrooms dotted across the grass, which were once vents for an underground water reservoir.
After a wander at Mount Victoria, spend a few hours at neighbouring North Head. Perched at the end of the point, these are some of the best views in Auckland. Formed over 50,000 years ago, North Head is one of the region’s oldest volcanic cones; it’s also one of the most significant historical coastal defence sites in New Zealand. Check out the old gun emplacements and underground maze of connecting tunnels (bring a torch). You can also take a self-guided 2km walk up and around the volcano, or cruise to the top on a personal segway tour for something a bit different.
Auckland’s best-preserved volcanic cone, Mangere Mountain sits 106m above sea level, with fabulous views across the Manakau Harbour. Head up the trail and explore the remains of former Māori settlements, where low stone walls radiate out from the base of the mountain.
If you’re keen to learn more about the history of what you’ll discover on the trail, pop into the Mangere Mountain Education Centre at the base of the mountain first – the centre is open 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.
Auckland Domain – Pukekawa
Erupting over 100,000 years ago, Pukekawa is one of Auckland’s oldest volcanoes – and one of the most popular.
Auckland Domain is more than a volcano, it’s also Auckland’s oldest park and home to the Auckland Museum, a spectacular building sitting prominently on the crater rim (you guessed it: great views). Nearby, wander through the beautiful wintergardens, two large Victorian-style glass houses featuring a huge collection of rare plants and exotic blooms. Pop into the museum foyer for information on a self-guided walking tour that takes in the Domain’s feature sculptures, created by New Zealand artists.
The park’s expansive grounds and century-old trees provide a romantic atmosphere – it’s common to see newlyweds having photos taken here on their big day – as well as countless shady picnic spots. And of course there’s plenty of room to kick a ball around with the family on a sunny Sunday.