Hawkes Bay is located on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, and is home to many attractions, including the beautiful Te Mata Peak.
There are many different hiking and biking options to get to the summit, as well as a paved road for those who’d prefer to drive up.
Te Mata is a very significant place in Māori culture; the legend says that the hill is the body of the Waimarama chief Te Mata, who died after trying to accomplish a series of impossible tasks in order to be with his love, Hinerakau.
The final task was to bite through the hills between the coast and the plains, but Te Mata choked on the earth of what is now known as Te Mata Peak.
There is a fantastic view from the summit over the plains, and it can be reached by foot, bike or car.
Te Mata hiking options
1.3km – 40 mins
This is a short loop walk that passes through native trees and bushes, but does not lead to the summit.
Big Redwoods Track
2.7km – 1 hour
This loop track takes in the huge redwoods near the plains, with a fantastic lookout spot.
4km – 1 hour 15 mins
This loop takes its name from a grove of karaka trees around 200 years old. The track passes through the upper parts of the hillside with panoramic views.
5.5km – 2 hours 15 mins
This is one of the two tracks which take in the summit of Te Mata Peak. It is similar to the Giant Circuit in that it passes through the Big Redwoods and is a large loop, but it takes a slightly different route with some steep sections.
5.4km – 2 hours 15 mins
Taking in the perimeter of Te Mata Park and climbing via the ‘Snakes and Ladders’ track to the summit, this is a more challenging walk. Walk through the Big Redwoods, grassy areas and take care on steep sections.
When we visited Te Mata, we opted to walk the Giant Circuit and found it to be very enjoyable! Follow the red markers and make sure you head in an anti-clockwise direction from the car park!
Giant Circuit Track
The track starts at the edge of the lower car park and immediately heads downhill through a wooded area.
The track is uneven but well-formed, so just make sure you watch your step.
After reaching the bottom of the slope, the path branches off in three directions, with a marked post showing which way to go, depending on the colour of the track you’re taking (Giant Circuit is red).
We followed the red arrow to the right and started climbing uphill again.
Eventually, this brought us out onto a small ridge with fantastic views over the Heretaunga Plains, and we followed this uphill for a while before dropping down into the woods again.
Before long, we found ourselves on the edge of the Big Redwoods, which were amazing and so tall!
Follow the red arrow again to leave the redwoods and head out onto a rolling grassy area, which gradually leads uphill.
Before long, we reached the base of the steep hill we were about to climb. The path zig-zags up from here to make the climb a little easier, but it is still a steep ascent.
The wind was quite strong at this point and we had to be careful not to be blown over the edge!
When the path stops zig-zagging, it means that the summit is not far away.
Keep following the track and you’ll see where the road reaches the summit.
There is a trig point on the top and an absolutely stunning view over Hawkes Bay!
We took some time to admire the view before continuing on the red track, which follows the road for a while.
The descent was much shorter than the ascent and we soon found ourselves back at the lower car park again.
Te Mata Park
The timing on the maps and signs was fairly accurate, although we completed the hike in less than the 2 hours 15 minutes specified.
The car park has a lot of information on the Te Mata Park, including all the hikes and the legend of Te Mata.
There are also biking options, and the sealed road leads to the summit; just make sure you’re careful when driving around the narrow bends.
I wish that we had more time to explore the area; we definitely would have come back to do some of the other hikes!
For wonderful views of Hawkes Bay, Te Mata Park is a great day out for visitors of all abilities.
Will you visit Te Mata on your next trip to Hawkes Bay? If you’ve visited before, which is your favourite hike? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Your guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- Mount Taranaki Summit Track
- Lake Taupō’s impressive Māori rock carving
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