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 we’ve listed 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.
Mt Eden - Maungawhau Mount Eden is among the most well-known Auckland volcanoes
At 196 metres high, Mount Eden - Maungawhau in Maori - is the highest of the Auckland volcanoes. Drive 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 Maori 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 Mt Eden and One Tree Hill among its activites.
One Tree Hill - Maungakiekie
One Tree Hill - Maungakiekie in Maori - is one of Auckland's largest and most culturally significant volcanoes. The highest point is topped with a single pine tree (replacing the original native Totara), 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 Maori Pa (fortifications), One Tree Hill is one of the largest former Maori 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.
A small headland jutting out into the Waitemata Harbour from Auckland’s North Shore, North Head boasts one of the most majestic panoramic views across the harbour, islands of the gulf and over the city. From here, you’ll see just why Auckland is known as the City of Sails, with a constant stream of boats of all sizes cruising by.
North Head is also famous for its history as a military strongpoint for Maori, European settlers and the military during the first and second World Wars. Popular with locals and visitors of all ages, it’s an amazing experience exploring the tunnels, gun emplacements and other fortifications.
For something a bit different, why not try Magic Broomstick Segway Tours, a sightseeing trip that offers you the unique experience of riding a Segway Personal Transporter – it’s a bit of fun and also great for those who don’t fancy the hike up the hill! Make sure to book so you don’t miss out. The tours depart from directly from the Devonport Ferry Terminal.
And if you’re keen to explore in your own time, Fullers ferries run regularly from Auckland’s Downtown Ferry Terminal to Devonport.
Mangere Mountain is a volcanic park situated on the shores of the Manukau Harbour, about 13km from downtown Auckland and just minutes from Auckland International Airport.
The mountain has a rich and turbulent history, both volcanic and human. The nature of its 'birth' and the sequence of eruptions can be seen in the remaining cone, craters and firepits. There are also many marks on the mountain made by humans - explore the Maori-made terraces and pits that mark their long occupation of the mountain.
Time Unlimited offers a guided half day Auckland South Volcano Tour, which includes Mangere Mountain and Ambury Regional Park, which sits on ash-covered lava flows from the eruption of Mangere Mountain 18,000 years ago.
For more information about visiting any Auckland volcanoes, contact 0800 AUCKLAND.