North toward Napier from Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak

It seems to be the first place locals tell you to go in Hastings, and for good reason – Te Mata Peak is the highest peak in the area, and offers views in every direction, over the Heretaunga Plains, and Hawke’s Bay, including Napier, the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru Ranges and Cape Kidnappers.  On a clear day you can see as far as Mount Ruapehu and Mahia Peninsula.

North toward Napier from Te Mata Peak
North toward Napier from Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Park is a 99 hectare recreational reserve with a variety of hiking and mountain biking tracks, a fair number of which seem to converge on the peak.  Other trails lead through forest and along limestone valleys.

Looking west from Te Mata Peak
Looking west from Te Mata Peak

The landscape of the park itself is the most beautiful part of the view in every direction.

Looking west from Te Mata Peak
Looking west from Te Mata Peak

The Maori story of Te Mata, from NewZealand.com:

Many centuries ago the people living in pa (fortified villages) on the Heretaunga Plains were under constant threat of war from the coastal tribes of Waimarama. At a gathering in Pakipaki (near Hastings), a wise old woman (kuia) suggested that the leader of the Waimarama tribes, a giant named Te Mata, could be made to fall in love with Hinerakau – the daughter of a Pakipaki chief – and turn his thoughts from war to peace. This mission was quickly accomplished, and Te Mata fell under the spell of the beautifully Hinerakau.

Looking east over the Tukituki River
Looking east over the Tukituki River

However the people of Heretaunga had not forgotten the past and wanted revenge. They demanded that Hinerakau make Te Mata prove his devotion by accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks. His last task was to bite through the hills between the coast and the plains, so that people could come and go with greater ease.

Looking south from Te Mata Peak
Looking south from Te Mata Peak

Te Mata died while eating his way through the hills. His half-accomplished work can be seen in what is known as The Gap or Pari Karangaranga (echoing cliffs) and his prostrate body forms Te Mata Peak.

Te Mata Peak, the sleeping giant, from TeMataPark.co.nz
Te Mata Peak, the sleeping giant, from TeMataPark.co.nz

Te Mata Peak is a place that must be visited when in the Hawkes Bay Area.  I’ll return for the views, and also to explore the trails.

Te Mata Peak
Te Mata Peak

You can view the full gallery of 16 pictures below.  Be sure to check out the panoramas!  To view on imgur click here.  The gallery below uses the Photo Gallery plugin, and offers a nice slideshow feature.  Let me know how you like it!