The panoramic views take in all directions – as far as Mt Ruapehu on a clear day. The Park lies on the edge of dramatic uplifted limestone hill country, cut through by the Tukituki River.
From the summit, with its spectacular views, a series of scarps, spurs and valleys drop away. There are massive rock cliffs and outcrops, studded with fossils of marine shells. Native vegetation clings to the cliffs and several of the plants on these cliffs are unique to Te Mata Park, and as a result are some of the rarest in New Zealand. Bush remnants and wetlands remain nestled in the valleys.
The location has been important to the inhabitants of the region for many centuries. The well-developed Karaka forests, especially the grove in upper Te Hau Valley, suggest intensive settlement by Maori in the past. Moa bones found on the slopes may also be associated with their occupation, and there are numerous archaeological remains, including pā sites and other earthworks. The original forest canopy, with its abundant bird life, has been reduced to pockets in secluded valleys, following hundreds of years of Māori and European settlement.