Most of the North Island east coast was formerly smothered in forest before clearance by Europeans and conversion to pasture. This is the last large lowland forest remnant on the East Coast between East Cape and Cape Palliser. The lookout not only provides views over the reserve, but also looks out east over Hawke Bay. The distant roll of ocean waves accompanies the peacock chorus reverberating around the farmed valley below.
Continue through Mahia Beach and 4.5 km after the tar seal ends there is a parking bay on the right. The start of the track is signposted 50 m further on. Watch for peacocks displaying their livery on the roadside and the petrified kids grazing on the verge.
This loop track performs a circuit through semi coastal forest and is marked with orange triangles. A clockwise loop will save the lookout until last.
At first the track drops into a gully, reaching a stream after 40 minutes. There is a picnic bench in a grassy clearing from where to take in the tranquil setting and to refuel for the climb out.
Over the next 20 minutes there are numerous stream crossings where wet feet are usually avoidable. The track then follows a spur on the far side of the bowl, climbing steadily to the fenceline at the roadside (45 minutes). It’s a further 5 minutes to the lookout, including a short section along the road. The conclusion of the loop also affords views west over Hawke Bay.
The broad basin is at the head of a large stream catchment and cover 325 hectares. It was purchased in 1981.
It exhibits typical lowland coastal forest, with tawa, kohekohe, and rewarewa in the canopy. Ferns and nikau are especially abundant in the shaded gullies and streamside locations.
A delight of the walk is the prevalence of kereru, who frequently take flight on hearing your arrival. Their expert control and aerobatic manoeuvres are mesmerising. They swoop between trees and dart through gaps in the canopy, their feathers whistling in flight.
Many Maori legends are associated with Mahia Peninsula. Around 1350 the Kurahaupo canoe, commanded by Popoto, arrived at Mahia and disembarked on the north-eastern side of the peninsula. It is said Rongomaiwahine, the Queen of Mahia, is descended from Popoto. Among her descendants are Mahina-a-rangi and ancestors of Maori kings.
The Takitimu Canoe, commanded by Tamatea, was a sacred canoe, thus no women, children or food could be transported in it. After calling at Tauranga, command was assumed by Ruawharo, a high priest, who sprinkled sand from Hauraki on the local beaches. He also planted karaka trees and sowed mauri (life force) to attract whales and fish to the surrounding waters. At one time an estimated 12,000 Maori lived on Mahia.
In 1837 two whaling stations were established and gained reputations for being places where vagrant Pakeha could drink and gamble. Sperm whales were the prized catch.
Mahia Peninsula is now used to send rockets to space.
North Island ▷ Out East ▷ Mahia
The site is wild and there is an alternance of rocks and sand which is beautiful. The water has a turquoise shining blue that is amazing.
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Perfect beaches for collecting shells and wood. Remote and beautiful.
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The peninsula is remote and amazing. Top place to surf on the east coast.
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Mahia East Coast Rd many view points.
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 😍