Mount Manaia Track

Mount Manaia Track

Bream Head Scenic Reserve



10 Rankers Reviews

8 Face-to-Face

259 Walking

20 Whangarei




4 km return | 2 hours return

The views from Mount Manaia stretch to the horizon in nearly every direction. You can see the Coromandel Peninsula, Cape Rodney, Hen and Chickens Islands and the entrance to Whangarei Harbour.

Mount Manaia is located at Taurikura Bay, Whangarei Heads, which lies just east of Whangarei City. You can park in the Manaia Club’s lower car park. The main track begins just above the car park.

Mount Manaia is one of a cluster of jagged, bush-covered hills that make the area one of the most dramatic harbour entrances in New Zealand.

The track leads you through regenerating native bush to the summit of Mount Manaia, 403 metres above sea level. Your walk starts with a steady climb, and as the gradient gets steeper, the views get more spectacular with the Bluff lookout offering great views of Bream Head and the Hen and Chicken Islands.

About half-way to the top the track leads you past an impressive stand of large tree ferns; their shed fonds are creating interesting displays in the forest understory.

A climb right to the very top is only for those with a strong head for heights; but once there and even on the upper slopes, the view is as good as being in an aeroplane.

You must return the same way. The alternative return track is currently closed until further notice.


A classic for sunset.


The start of the track is signposted past the settlement of Whangarei Heads along Whangarei Heads Road. There is a parking area below Mount Manaia Club. The start of the track is signposted a little up the hill and leaves from behind the early settlers memorial.


The track is marked with orange triangles and is uneven and steep. It takes approximately 45 minutes to the signposted Bluff Lookout. This 2-minute detour takes you to an opening in the forest at the top of an exposed rock face. Take extreme care while admiring the view as the wind can gust ferociously.

The final ascent to the summit takes approximately 15 minutes. A wooden staircase leads to a flat rock area below the main pinnacles. There is no access to the trig at the summit.

An alternative route is signposted from the top and drops very steeply, sometimes aided with a steel cable to steady the descent. This takes 45 minutes and arrives at the start of the track.


Mount Manaia is the eroded skeleton of an andesite cone, erupted 22-16 million years ago. The layers of andesitic breccia are visible on the summit ridge and rocks in the matrix are visibly exposed on the sides of the pinnacles.

The peaks of the Bream Head Range are the eroded stumps of former volcanic cones, erupted around 20 million years ago. The volcanic vents were filled with slowly cooling lava, which were more resistant than the layers of ash, pumice, lava and mud forming the surrounding cone. Weathering agents over the millennia have removed the less resistant layers, leaving the exposed neck, known as volcanic plug. The andesite lava was silica rich.


Rare plant communities adorn the slopes, with parapara, large leaf milk tree and native angelica being some of the more notable species. The exposed rocky ridge has examples of mountain daisy, native forget-me-knot and sprawling pomaderis.

Much of the plant and birdlife is shared with the Three Kings, Hen and Chickens and Poor Knights Island groups.

Polynesian History

According to one Maori legend there were five brothers – Manaia, Maungaraho, Tokatoka, Motowhitiki and Taungatara, who were all disillusioned with their lives in Hawaiki.

Under cover of darkness they decided to follow the findings of the great explorer Kupe and travel to Aotearoa. At dawn the mighty Atua took away their powers of motion, stranding them in their present resting places.

Manaia, Maungaraho, Tokatoka, and Motowhitiki all lie in a straight line to Ripiro Beach, where Taungatara, the smallest peak stands.

The songs and legends of Ngapuhi and Ngatiwhatua remember this story.

Another Maori legend accounts for the five peaks on the summit ridge relating to Manaia and his family. The largest peak represents Manaia himself, the smaller pinnacles are his children, while the last figure is his unfaithful wife, turning her head away in shame.


Feature Value Info


North IslandNorthlandWhangarei


  • Walking
  • Free



Michi W's avatar

Michi W

Ranking: 9/10

Lots of steps but nice view.

Reviewed almost 2 years ago

Vic Baughen's avatar

Vic Baughen

New Zealand

Ranking: 9/10

Track well maintained. Predator control very good. Superb greenery and bush.

Reviewed about 3 years ago and experienced in January 2017

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Kim Heimberg's avatar

Kim Heimberg


Ranking: 7/10

Pretty hard to go up, because there are many stairs, but worth it.

Reviewed over 3 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Heike Schreiber's avatar

Heike Schreiber


Ranking: 8/10

It is a pretty easy hike up to the top with a well maintained path, mostly stairs thought - so plan to still sweat a bit. Takes about one hour to get up but you are rewarded with a great view!! Do not forget to look for some geocaches at the top - one of the best I have done!!

Reviewed almost 4 years ago and experienced in March 2016

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Nina Helmling's avatar

Nina Helmling


Ranking: 10/10

Steep 40 minute climb up Mount Manaia - rewarded by absolutely magnificent views over the various bays at Whangarei Heads.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Jacob Vivien's avatar

Jacob Vivien


Ranking: 8/10

Nice track and free.

Reviewed almost 8 years ago and experienced in March 2012

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Esthel Julien's avatar

Esthel Julien


Ranking: 10/10

Nice view, good facilities.

Reviewed almost 8 years ago and experienced in March 2012

araroa's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

This track is a great uphill hike which will take you around 1 1/2 hour in total. There is a fantastic viewpoint about 2/3 of the way up where you can take a well earned rest. The track itself is nice and wide and gravelled all the way up - incl a fair few stepways onthe way. Steps a nice and wide so not hard on the knees coming down! When you get right to the top climb on the big volcanic rock for a huge 360 view as far as you can see.

Reviewed over 8 years ago

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Petra Lehmann's avatar

Petra Lehmann


Ranking: 10/10

Great views!

Reviewed over 9 years ago

Tim Wright's avatar

Tim Wright

New Zealand

Ranking: 8/10

Spectacular 360degree views of Northland. Steep.

Reviewed over 9 years ago

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Nick Morrison's avatar

Nick Morrison

Rankers owner