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.

A couple standing on an elevated rocky structure surrounded by the trees tops which appears shorter than them, and a lake with a view of the landscapes on the background.
Rangitoto Island lava fields by Todd Eyre.

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.

A deep sloping pit outside the city but covered in green grass and vegetation.
Mt Eden with Rangitoto Island in the background.

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

VolcanoAge (thousand years)Height
Albert Park Volcano145.0 ± 4.0Unclear
Ash Hill31.8 ± 0.430 metres (98 ft)
Boggust Park Crater1305 metres (16 ft)
Cemetery CraterUndated33 metres (108 ft)
Crater Hill30.4 ± 0.8
Grafton Volcano106.5
Hampton Park57.0 ± 32.035 metres (115 ft)
Kohuora33.7 ± 2.4
Mangere Lagoon59.5
Matanginui/Green Mount19.6 ± 6.678 metres (256 ft)
Matukutureia/McLaughlins Mountain48.2 ± 6.473 metres (240 ft)
Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill67.0 ± 12.0182 metres (597 ft)
Maungarahiri/Little Rangitoto24.6 ± 0.675 metres (246 ft)
Maungarei/Mount Wellington10.0 ± 1.0135 metres (443 ft)
Maungataketake/Elletts Mountain88.9 ± 4.876 metres (249 ft)
Maungauika/North Head87.5 ± 15.250 metres (160 ft)
Maungawhau/Mount Eden28.0 ± 0.6196 metres (643 ft)
Motukorea/Browns Island24.4 ± 0.668 metres (223 ft)
Mount Robertson/Sturges Park24.3 ± 0.878 metres (256 ft)
Ōhinerau/Mount Hobson34.2 ± 1.8143 metres (469 ft)
Ohuiarangi/Pigeon Mountain23.4 ± 0.855 metres (180 ft)
Orakei Basin126.0 ± 6.0Sea level
Otahuhu/Mount Richmond30.2 ± 4.250 metres (160 ft)
Ōtuataua24.2 ± 1.864 metres (210 ft)
Ōwairaka/Mount Albert119.2 ± 5.6135 metres (443 ft)
Puhinui CratersUndated22 metres (72 ft)
Pukaki Lagoon45Sea Level
Pukeiti23.730 metres (98 ft)
Pukekawa/Auckland Domain106.0 ± 8.0
Puketāpapa/Mount Roskill105.3 ± 6.2110 metres (360 ft)
Pukewairiki13030 metres (98 ft)
Pupuke193.2 ± 5.6−57 metres (−187 ft)
Rangitoto Island0.55 (first eruption)260 metres (850 ft)
Rarotonga/Mount Smart20.1 ± 0.287 metres (285 ft) (quarried)
Styaks Swamp19.1
Takaroro/Mount Cambria42.3 ± 22.030 metres (98 ft) (quarried)
Takarunga/Mount Victoria34.8 ± 4.087 metres (285 ft)
Taurere/Taylors Hill30.2 ± 0.256 metres (184 ft)
Te Apunga-o-Tainui/McLennan Hills41.3 ± 2.445 metres (148 ft) (quarried)
Te Hopua-a-Rangi/Gloucester Park31.0Sea level (reclaimed)
Te Kopua Kai-a-Hiku/Panmure Basin25.2 ± 1.8Sea level
Te Kopua-o-Matakamokamo/Tank Farm181.0 ± 2.0
Te Kōpuke/Mount St John75.3 ± 3.4126 metres (413 ft)
Te Motu-a-Hiaroa/Puketutu29.8 ± 4.465 metres (213 ft)
Te Pane-o-Mataaho/Māngere Mountain59.0 ± 20.0106 metres (348 ft)
Te Pou Hawaiki28.0Quarried
Te Puke ō Tara/Otara Hill56.589 metres (292 ft) (quarried)
Te Tātua-a-Riukiuta/Three Kings31.0 ± 1.8133 metres (436 ft)
Te Tauoma/Purchas Hill10.9 ± 0.250 metres (160 ft) (quarried)
Waitomokia/Mount Gabriel20.3 ± 0.220 metres (66 ft) (quarried)
Whakamuhu/Saint Heliers/Glover Park161.0 ± 36.0Sea level
Wiri Mountain/Matukutūruru30.1–31.080 metres (260 ft) (quarried)
Source: Bruce W. Hayward, Graeme Murdoch and Gordon Maitland

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.

A colour coded map of Auckland Volcanic Field.
Volcanoes of Auckland: A Field Guide.

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

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

A view of Auckland War Memorial Museum from the outside showing its green neatly-trimmed grass and light poles.
Auckland War Memorial Museum at the Domain.

Mt Eden/Mangawhau

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

A view of Auckland City with its beautiful blue cloudy skies, buildings, and sea ports, as seen from the grassy sloping pit of Mt Eden.
Auckland City Centre from Mt Eden.

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

An obelisk atop of a hill with a road leading to it, various patches of trees, and green grass in the surrounding area.
One Tree Hill and Cornwall Park.


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.

Tourists standing on a wooden platform while watching the waters surrounding the Rangitoto Island.
Rangitoto Island. Photo credit: Todd Eyre.

Lake Pupuke

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.

The blue waters of Lake Pupuke with many houses surrounding the area and a neighbouring sea which is very close by.
Lake Pupuke is only 200 metres from the sea.

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

The North Head positioned just beside the sea with its structures built on it's top while covered in tress and grasses, and a few houses built below.
North Head is an important historical location in Auckland.

Spoilt for choice, which Auckland Volcanoes will you visit next?

By Frank Davis of Essential New Zealand.

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