There’s not many cities built on top of a volcanic field. One of my favourite things about Auckland are the many volcanic cones, providing great vantage points for beautiful views across the city. How many of them have you visited?
The highest, at 196m, and probably most well known volcanic cone is a good place to start. You can no longer drive to the summit, a big improvement, only half way up now, but it’s a relatively gradual walk compared to most of the volcanoes. The best views in my opinion are found slightly lower down from the summit, on a grassy section looking toward the CBD.
While not the highest, this in my opinion offers the most spectacular views, both toward the Waitemata Harbour, and back to Mt Eden, Mt Saint John and One Tree Hill. Bonus points for no road access, the effort of walking up it makes the views even more rewarding, plus the occasional cow.
One Tree Hill
My local and favourite volcano, with it’s distinctive obelisk memorial rivalling the Skytower as a useful navigational tool. There is visible evidence of the Maori pa site that once stood on the summit, including extensive terracing. It is also the most central volcano, and therefore a great place to get your bearings on the city.
The highest volcano on the North Shore, and possibly the steepest in the city based on my failed efforts to cycle up it. The stunning views are complemented by funky mushroom painted ventilation covers, the remains of some rather large guns, and a Folk music club!
Home to historic guns, tunnels and buildings, this is also the best place to watch boats out in the harbour. There’s a great path that runs along by the water around the base, through a few tunnels, as well as steps up from Cheltenham Beach.
Somewhere every Aucklander will have driven past many times but that very few will have ever visited. It’s on your right as you head out of town south, before the Tip Top factory. Reasonable views along with some good bush walks and a few cows.
Gives a different perspective on the city, looming over the huge Stonefields development, and close to the also volcanic Panmure Basin. Combine with Panmure Basin for a good 8.5km running route.
Mount Richmond Domain
Another rarely visited but quite lovely spot, though more for the ancient trees than the views. Has a couple of volcanic cones, one of which with a water tower, plus it is the home of Otahuhu rugby.
Home to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, sports fields, the Wintergardens, and bush walks, as well as views toward the water. Not an obvious volcano but is one of the oldest, so has eroded significantly over time.
Most people don’t think about the fact that Three Kings so was called because there were once three volcanic cones. Big King is the main survivor, the others having been quarried away, a familiar fate for many of the volcanic cones in Auckland.
Over 200,000 years old, long filled with water, and home to the Pumphouse Theatre on it’s shore. I did some of my PADI scuba diving training here. It was cold, dark with poor visibility and devoid of much life. Just the place you want to practice having your air supply cut off…
The newest (only 600 years old) and largest volcanic cone in Auckland, and an icon of the city. It’s a reasonably energetic walk to get to the summit, best done outside of the heat of summer when the volcanic rock gets hot underfoot, but the views reward the effort.