Windy Canyon and Palmer's Track...

Windy Canyon and Palmer's Track to Mount Hobson / Hirakimata

Windy Canyon and Palmer's Track to Mount Hobson / Hirakimata

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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3.3 km one-way | 3 hours one-way

Mount Hobson / Hirakimata is 621 metres above sea level. From the summit lookout platform, there are views of the entire island and north to the Hen and Chickens Islands, south to the Coromandel Peninsula and west to the Greater Auckland Region. Windy Canyon is a deep cut ravine - quite out of the ordinary in this place.


The start of the track is signposted from the summit of Whangapoua Hill on Aotea Road between Awana and Okiwi.


After 10 minutes the well-formed and even track reaches the steps through the intimate gorges of Windy Canyon.

After a further 30 minutes over a narrow, well-formed and undulating track, you reach a ‘wooden horse’, a relic from the logging days.

For the final 1¼ hours to the summit, the track becomes very steep, narrow and uneven.

The summit boardwalk over the final stages below Mount Hobson is there to protect the nesting sites of the endangered black petrel. Please stay to the track.


Around Windy Canyon, the stepped track passes through the close vegetation and encrusted walls of volcanic obsidian breccia. The pinnacles, jagged bluffs and convoluted outcrops protrude through the forest, creating an other-worldliness to the landscape.

The volcanic rocks have steadily been reworked along weaknesses and fractures by rain and running water to produce the narrow ravines around Windy Canyon.


The heathland in the area contains Great Barrier tea-tree (Kunzea sinclairii) and the daisy shrub (Olearia allomii), both unique to Great Barrier Island.


The black petrels only breed on Great Barrier and Little Barrier Islands. Their total population is estimated to be 3-4,000 birds and over 800 pairs are thought to breed on Mount Hobson. They lay one egg in burrows, breed in late spring and the young leave the nests between April and July.

European History

The ‘wooden horse’ is also known as a snatch box and housed a double pulley. This arrangement was powered by a steam hauler to drag logs from the Awana Stream over the ridge to the waiting bullock teams, who pulled the logs to Whangaparapara Harbour.


Feature Value Info


DOC Auckland

Central government organisation


North IslandAuckland RegionGreat Barrier Island


  • Walking
  • Free


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DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner