Waikato, New Zealand
Mt Pirongia Waikato Reviews
One of nature's treasure chests Oct 16, 2010
Mt Pirongia is the mountain ('maunga' in Maori language) in the Waikato region on New Zealand's North Island.
Mt Pirongia isn't just a tremendous landmark. This mountain, an extinct volcano, represents the vibrant, beautiful natural heart of an entire region.
Today Mt Pirongia is very well-known and quite popular among locals and tourists from all over the world because a wide range of different both lovely and challenging tracks can be walked up to either the highest summit at 959m above sea level or one of the other pretty lookouts.
But this mountain also played an immense role in peoples' life even before European settlers had come to New Zealand. The the mountain's original name, its story and myths have their origin in Maori history, culture and tradition. The maunga's Maori name is Te Aroaro o Kahu which is translated 'the scented presence of Kahu (a tohunga's wife)'.
Another aspect reflecting Mt Pirongia's importance and appreciation is the lovely tradition of hosting the annual Mt Pirongia Art Awards in Pirongia village. This event always offers talented artists to spread their creativity dedicated to their mountain with all its thriving (native) flora and fauna. Wonderful artworks are exhibited and presented by Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society.
Restoration, conservation and recreation play another significant role on the mountain because protection of endemic species takes high priority, and even the re-introduction of lost species, especially songbirds, is a community aim. Otherwise all travellers who come to climb the mountain wouldn't be able to enjoy this largest area of native forest in the Waikato Basin with many interesting features such as tree fern, northern rata and kauri. Furthermore it's just a joy to hear a variety of native and introduced birds such as tuis, wood pigeons and moreporks. Apart from the avifauna small lizards, eels, bullies, trout and crayfish live in the forest park around the mountain. And speaking of all those species, an enormous increase of songbirds can be noticed which is also tribute to all these conservation efforts.
As nature lover and/or outdoorsy person Mt Pirongia is a 'must-climb'! I've walked the Mangakaraa Nature Walk and the Tirohanga Track so far an absolutely recommend these routes. It's just such a pleasure to walk one of the twelve available tracks/routes leading throughout varied deep green bush. And for people who would like to spend a little more time in this charming scenery a hut, maintained by DOC (Department of Conservation), provides a rustic but nevertheless welcome overnight accommodation (NZ$ 5.00 per person/night) near the highest summit.
All in all one of nature's masterpieces – see, explore, cherish it!
Part of the New Zealand 2010/11 travel blog
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