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Manaia, Whangarei Heads

Mt Lion. Photo: Matthew Pike
Whangarei Heads
30min south east of Whangarei along Riverside Drive, Onerahi Road and Whangarei Heads Road. Park at the Mount Manaia Club car park
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Manaia is an impressive-looking hill. Its numerous ‘turrets’ at the summit give it a castle-like quality and the sheer drop on the southern side looks imposing from the car park at the base of the hill.Fortunately, the track isn’t a direct route and instead snakes around the southern side before curving around the back to the top of the walkable section, beneath the turrets.

It begins with a lovely view south from the early settlers, memorial and continues into the bush at an easy grade. Then the steps begin, which continue almost continuously to the top.

A wooden staircase leads to the highest point accessible to anyone without climbing gear or the remotest fear of heights.

The views are two-fold. To one side of the pillar, north-east over Whangarei Harbour towards the city, while to the other there’s a great view of Bream Head with the Hen and Chicken islands behind. But the best view of the lot comes, not from the summit, but from around 200m from the top where a clear but unmarked path heads left and, after just a minute or so, leads to a large, rock platform. From here, there’s a spectacular uninterrupted view to the jagged hills of Mt Lion and the islands, as well as the best view of the summit’s rock pillars.