Auckland volcanoes: The ultimate guide to our volcanic field
Join us as we introduce you to all 53 of Auckland’s volcanoes. Considered the most volcanic city in the world, the City of Sails is the perfect place for volcanologists and all those that love a good view!
Auckland is a remarkable city. Surrounded on all sides by ocean and extensive harbours – the Manukau Harbour to the west, Waitemata Harbour to the east and Kaipara Harbour to the North – this maritime settlement is also built on a vast volcanic field.
Featuring an impressive 53 volcanoes, spread over an area of 1,000 square kilometres, it’s no wonder that Auckland is recognised as the most volcanic city in the world.
Auckland floats atop a vast lake of active magma, which may push through in a new location, forming a new cone, at any time – next week, next year or next century.
Nevertheless, an eruption in the Auckland Volcanic Field is a low probability event (on human timescales) whilst the varied nature of the terrain makes it a fascinating place to explore.
Many of the volcanic sites in Auckland are quite obvious, with clearly defined cones (such as Mt Eden). Others though have been eroded by nature (or man) or formed into deep lakes, such as Lake Pupuke.
Did you know? Maunga is the te reo Māori word for mountain.
Your Guide to the Auckland Volcanoes
The following guide is designed to help you recognise and learn about the volcanoes found in Tāmaki Makaurau. We’ll also help with information so you know which Auckland Volcanoes are worth checking out.
Auckland’s Ancestral Mountains – Tūpuna Maunga
Though Auckland is home to 53 volcanoes, 14 have significant historic significance – these are known as Tūpuna Maunga (or ancestral mountains).
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority was set up under the 2014 Redress Act of the Treaty of Waitangi to govern the fourteen Tūpuna Maunga (ancestral mountains) of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
This Authority is now responsible for the routine management of the maunga (mountains) and is seen as a partnership between Ngā Mana Whenua and Auckland Council.
Did you know? Mana whenua refers to the indigenous people (Māori) who have historic and territorial rights over the land.
The 14 Tūpuna Maunga are:
- Matukutūruru/Wiri Mountain
- Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill
- Maungarei/Mount Wellington
- Maungawhau/Mount Eden
- Maungauika/North Head
- Ōwairaka/Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura/Mount Albert
- Ōhinerau/Mount Hobson
- Ōhuiarangi/Pigeon Mountain
- Ōtāhuhu/Mount Richmond
- Pukewīwī/Puketāpapa/Mount Roskill
- Rarotonga/Mount Smart
- Te Kōpuke/Tītīkōpuke/Mount St John
- Takarunga/Mount Victoria
- Te Tātua a Riukiuta/Big King
Fortunately, reserves have been established on many of these mountains and they are open for exploration by foot.
Of particular interest are Mt Eden, One Tree Hill, Mt Albert, Mt Roskill, Mt Victoria and North Head, where the summits feature extensive views of the city. They also provide walkers with the opportunity to experience a wide variety of trees and wildlife, both native and exotic.
A Complete List of All of Auckland’s Volcanoes
|Volcano||Age (thousand years)||Height|
|Albert Park Volcano||145.0 ± 4.0||Unclear|
|Ash Hill||31.8 ± 0.4||30 metres (98 ft)|
|Boggust Park Crater||130||5 metres (16 ft)|
|Cemetery Crater||Undated||33 metres (108 ft)|
|Crater Hill||30.4 ± 0.8|
|Hampton Park||57.0 ± 32.0||35 metres (115 ft)|
|Kohuora||33.7 ± 2.4|
|Matanginui/Green Mount||19.6 ± 6.6||78 metres (256 ft)|
|Matukutureia/McLaughlins Mountain||48.2 ± 6.4||73 metres (240 ft)|
|Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill||67.0 ± 12.0||182 metres (597 ft)|
|Maungarahiri/Little Rangitoto||24.6 ± 0.6||75 metres (246 ft)|
|Maungarei/Mount Wellington||10.0 ± 1.0||135 metres (443 ft)|
|Maungataketake/Elletts Mountain||88.9 ± 4.8||76 metres (249 ft)|
|Maungauika/North Head||87.5 ± 15.2||50 metres (160 ft)|
|Maungawhau/Mount Eden||28.0 ± 0.6||196 metres (643 ft)|
|Motukorea/Browns Island||24.4 ± 0.6||68 metres (223 ft)|
|Mount Robertson/Sturges Park||24.3 ± 0.8||78 metres (256 ft)|
|Ōhinerau/Mount Hobson||34.2 ± 1.8||143 metres (469 ft)|
|Ohuiarangi/Pigeon Mountain||23.4 ± 0.8||55 metres (180 ft)|
|Orakei Basin||126.0 ± 6.0||Sea level|
|Otahuhu/Mount Richmond||30.2 ± 4.2||50 metres (160 ft)|
|Ōtuataua||24.2 ± 1.8||64 metres (210 ft)|
|Ōwairaka/Mount Albert||119.2 ± 5.6||135 metres (443 ft)|
|Puhinui Craters||Undated||22 metres (72 ft)|
|Pukaki Lagoon||45||Sea Level|
|Pukeiti||23.7||30 metres (98 ft)|
|Pukekawa/Auckland Domain||106.0 ± 8.0|
|Puketāpapa/Mount Roskill||105.3 ± 6.2||110 metres (360 ft)|
|Pukewairiki||130||30 metres (98 ft)|
|Pupuke||193.2 ± 5.6||−57 metres (−187 ft)|
|Rangitoto Island||0.55 (first eruption)||260 metres (850 ft)|
|Rarotonga/Mount Smart||20.1 ± 0.2||87 metres (285 ft) (quarried)|
|Takaroro/Mount Cambria||42.3 ± 22.0||30 metres (98 ft) (quarried)|
|Takarunga/Mount Victoria||34.8 ± 4.0||87 metres (285 ft)|
|Taurere/Taylors Hill||30.2 ± 0.2||56 metres (184 ft)|
|Te Apunga-o-Tainui/McLennan Hills||41.3 ± 2.4||45 metres (148 ft) (quarried)|
|Te Hopua-a-Rangi/Gloucester Park||31.0||Sea level (reclaimed)|
|Te Kopua Kai-a-Hiku/Panmure Basin||25.2 ± 1.8||Sea level|
|Te Kopua-o-Matakamokamo/Tank Farm||181.0 ± 2.0|
|Te Kōpuke/Mount St John||75.3 ± 3.4||126 metres (413 ft)|
|Te Motu-a-Hiaroa/Puketutu||29.8 ± 4.4||65 metres (213 ft)|
|Te Pane-o-Mataaho/Māngere Mountain||59.0 ± 20.0||106 metres (348 ft)|
|Te Pou Hawaiki||28.0||Quarried|
|Te Puke ō Tara/Otara Hill||56.5||89 metres (292 ft) (quarried)|
|Te Tātua-a-Riukiuta/Three Kings||31.0 ± 1.8||133 metres (436 ft)|
|Te Tauoma/Purchas Hill||10.9 ± 0.2||50 metres (160 ft) (quarried)|
|Waitomokia/Mount Gabriel||20.3 ± 0.2||20 metres (66 ft) (quarried)|
|Whakamuhu/Saint Heliers/Glover Park||161.0 ± 36.0||Sea level|
|Wiri Mountain/Matukutūruru||30.1–31.0||80 metres (260 ft) (quarried)|
A Map of Auckland’s Volcanic Field
The map below will help to guide you on your walking journeys around Auckland’s volcanic peaks.
You’ll want a car though, due to the widespread nature of the volcanic field.
The Best Auckland Volcanoes to Visit
With so many volcanoes, we are spoilt for choice in the City of Sails. Which are the best to visit though?
Easily accessible from the city centre, Auckland Domain, Mt Eden and One Tree Hill are all well worth a visit.
Head a little further out of the inner city and you’ll find a number of additional Auckland volcanoes with unique features.
The following peaks are our top recommendations.
Auckland Domain/Pukekawa is easy to spot from the city as the impressive War Memorial Museum is perched on the northern slopes.
This is one of the oldest volcanoes in the area (it’s over 100,000 years old), providing an excellent view of the city centre and Hauraki Gulf.
The park-like grounds include sports fields, sculptures, botanical gardens and forested areas. In addition, the Museum houses an extensive collection of New Zealand and Māori historical treasures (taonga).
The Auckland Domain is one of the best central city parks, offering a variety of leisure opportunities within an urban environment.
Park Road, Grafton, Auckland 1010
Mt Eden/Mangawhau is also very prominent as one of the highest peaks in the area (at 196 metres tall). It offers what would probably be the best overall views of the region.
You will need your walking shoes with this one as the climb is a little steep but well worth the effort!
The crater is still fairly well defined on this volcano as it was not quarried like the peaks at Mt Albert, Mt Roskill and Mt Wellington (amongst other Auckland volcanoes).
250 Mount Eden Road, Mount Eden, Auckland 1024
One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie
One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie is a little further out in the suburbs, however, it is one of our favourite walking and photographic locations.
It is set amid Cornwall Park where you can also see farm animals, an archery range, an observatory and a variety of trees and landscapes.
The volcano itself is impressive and clearly defined, with a distinctive obelisk at the top and a grave for Sir John Logan Campbell, who is famed for founding Auckland City.
Visible from much of Auckland, this is a widely recognised local landmark.
One Tree Hill, Auckland 1023
Rangitoto is another Auckland icon and a common feature in landscape photography.
The island offers fantastic hiking but you’ll need to catch a ferry from Auckland’s CBD to get there.
Emerging from the sea just 600 years ago, pest-free Rangitoto Island is the youngest volcano anywhere in New Zealand. It offers beautiful views out over the harbour and extensive lava fields, ready to explore.
Rangitoto is rich in history and a favourite day trip for walkers, making it one of our favourite volcanoes in the region.
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One of the most intriguing volcanic sites in Auckland, Lake Pupuke is a freshwater lake. It occupies one of the older craters between the suburbs of Takapuna and Milford on Auckland’s North Shore. Separated from the sea by less than 200 metres at one point, it has a circumference of approximately 4.5km and a depth of up to 57m.
Lake Pupuke remains a lake because, unlike other similar vents, its eruptions produced substantial lava flows. This allowed water to escape through cracks in the lava reaching under the crater wall, creating a series of freshwater springs. These can be found along the beaches between Takapuna and Milford.
The lava flow at the end of Takapuna Beach enveloped a kauri forest, producing an internationally significant collection of tree moulds. This has been called New Zealand’s only example of a fossil forest preserved in a lava flow. Incredibly, it ranks amongst the best examples in the world.
Access to the lake is available at several places making it easy to visit and enjoy.
Mt Victoria/Takarunga & North Head/Maungauika
While on the North Shore, it is also worth travelling to the quaint seaside suburb of Devonport, where Mt Victoria/Takarunga and North Head/Maungauika are located.
Both of these volcanoes are worth a visit for their spectacular coastal and city views.
In addition, North Head features some interesting military history, firstly of Māori occupation, and then as a coastal fortification.
It is considered the most significant coastal defence site in New Zealand because of the size and variety of its defence installations, which span nearly 120 years. They include elements from all periods of New Zealand’s coast defence history.
It is possible to head underground into the old caves and gun emplacements, making this a popular spot to visit with kids. History buffs and photographers will leave happy too, of course!
Devonport, Auckland 0624
Spoilt for choice, which Auckland Volcanoes will you visit next?
By Frank Davis of Essential New Zealand.