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Walking Trails

Enjoyed every day by hundreds of walkers and joggers, Te Mata Park has an extensive network of well-formed tracks that provide varied landscapes, views and gradients. Choose from one of the Top 5 Walking Tracks which provide a variety of options to explore some spectacular areas of the Park on foot.

The Top 5 Walking Tracks provide a variety of options to explore some spectacular areas of the Park on foot. Each of the tracks is a different loop route, which may be travelled in either direction. To access the Top 5 Tracks, enter the Park via the Main Gates Car Park or Tauroa Road Car Park. Note: starting at Tauroa adds 0.7km and an extra 15 minutes walk each way, via Chambers Walk.

Our Top 5

Fitness and Safety

The times for walking each track are estimates only, based on adults of average fitness, allowing time to enjoy the spectacular views and Points of Interest.

Take care on the tracks – they traverse a variety of landscapes, including very steep areas. Tracks may be slippery after wet or wintery weather. Wear suitable footwear and clothing, and use sun protection. Some parts of the Park are quite exposed to the elements. Note there are no toilets or drinking water within the Park.

Please help keep our Park beautiful. The Trust is very grateful to visitors who collect litter found in the Park. Rubbish bins are located at the Main Gates Car Park, Tauroa Road Car Park, and the Summit. The whole Park is an off-lead area for dogs. Please note that stock is regularly grazed, and all dogs must be controlled at all times. Bikes are permitted on sections of track marked with orange ‘Shared Track’ stickers.

Named after the cheeky fantails seen along the way, this track passes through majestic gum trees and native bush, the Small Redwoods Grove, and loops around past the lemon-scented eucalypts on Chambers Walk to the Main Gates Car Park.

Piwakawaka

Throughout Te Mata Park, you will hear the friendly ‘cheet cheet’ call of the fantail, also known as Pīwakawaka.

One of New Zealand’s most common birds, the Fantail is one of the few native bird species that has been able to adapt to an environment greatly altered by humans. Easily recognised for its energetic flying antics, the fantail uses its broad tail to change direction quickly while hunting for insects. Their favourites are moths, flies, spiders, wasps, and beetles, although they sometimes also eat fruit. The fantail is quite short lived – the oldest bird recorded in New Zealand was three years old. They stay in pairs all year and are prolific breeders, with females laying as many as five clutches of two to five eggs in one season.

Fantail young are fed about every 10 minutes – about 100 times a day – so it’s understandable that during waking hours the bird is almost never still, constantly seeking out flying insects. The cheeky fantail is not shy and will often flit within a few metres of people, hoping to catch any small flying insects that we humans have disturbed.


Small Redwoods

This grove of 137 California redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) was planted in 1974. Native to America, the redwood is an evergreen and extremely long-lived tree with a life span of 2,500 to 3,500 years.

They are the tallest trees now living on Earth – the record-holder is the Hyperion tree in Northern California (pictured right) which measures 115.61m (379.3 feet). Redwoods have a conical crown with horizontal branches.

Their bark is very thick – up to 30cm – and quite soft and fibrous, with a bright red-brown colour when freshly cut which is where the name redwood comes from. The leaves tend to lie in a flat plane to maximise their ability to capture sunlight.


Lemon-Scented Eucalypt

The upper section of Chambers Walk is planted with a grove of Eucalyptus Citriodora, or Lemon-Scented Eucalypts which grow to around 35 metres in height and are native to Australia. Also known as the Blue Spotted Gum, they have smooth, pale bark and a narrow leaved crown which smells strongly of lemons, especially after rain.

The Lemon-Scented Eucalypt is a favourite source of pollen for bees and is also used for structural timber in building. These trees were planted in Te Mata Park in the 1980s and are an important food source for birds and insects.


Chambers Walk

Chambers Walk is named after the family who created Te Mata Park and gifted it to the community in perpetuity. The land that makes up Te Mata Park was included in a large block purchased in 1862 by early farmer settler John Chambers (pictured right).

In 1927, as a memorial to their father, his sons Bernard, John and Mason gifted a 99 hectare reserve on the upper Havelock North hills, including Te Mata Peak, to the people of Hawke’s Bay. So Te Mata Park was formed and is ours forever, with further protection granted in 1997 under the QEII National Trust for open space. The original Park’s Trust Deed specified that a male descendant of the original grantors must be a member of the Trust so, over more than 80 years, a long line of Chambers men have been committed to the ongoing care and protection of the Park. Since 2019, the Trust Deed has been amended so that a female or male descendent of the Chambers family must be a member of the Trust.


Kawakawa

Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) is a small tree which is found throughout the North Island and upper South Island of New Zealand and is common in all the bush areas of Te Mata Park. Also known as the pepper tree, kawakawa leaves are often covered with insect holes which are mainly caused by the kawakawa looper moth caterpillar.

Kawakawa was one of the most important healing herbs used by Māori and is still widely used today. A tea can be made from the leaves or roots and used for bladder, stomach and indigestion problems as well as to relieve pain. The leaves are used to heal cuts, bruises and nettle stings. Related to black pepper, kawakawa seeds can also be used as a cooking spice.

Kawakawa are prolific and vigorous growers and can create such a dense canopy that other plants are suppressed. Some kawakawa are removed to prevent this happening in the Park.

An outing to the stunning Big Redwoods is the perfect spot for a picnic, or game of hide and seek. The loop track takes in a great lookout point over the Heretaunga Plains, the Big Redwoods, and beautiful native bush.
Big Redwoods

This grove of 223 stunning California redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) was planted in 1927 and many are now over 40 metres tall. The Chambers family were great experimenters with tree planting and, having generally favoured eucalypts, decided to try a conifer species. Noting the similarities between the climates of Hawke’s Bay and coastal California, they decided to plant a large grove of redwoods.

Native to America, the redwood is an evergreen and extremely long-lived tree with a life span of 2,500 to 3,500 years. They are the tallest trees now living on earth – the record-holder is the Hyperion tree in Northern California which measures 115.61metres (379.3 feet). Redwoods have a conical crown with horizontal branches. Their bark is very thick – up to 30cm – and quite soft and fibrous, with a bright red-brown colour when freshly cut which is where the name redwood comes from. The leaves tend to lie in a flat plane to maximise their ability to capture sunlight. The Big Redwoods is one of the most popular places in Te Mata Park and has been the setting for weddings, concerts and even Shakespearean plays.


Little Limestone Cave

Archaeologists are very interested in limestone caves like this one, as they were often used by moa for nesting and sleeping, and some still contain remains of moa droppings. Moa would have certainly roamed through the Park, and bones of the little bush moa were found by local children nearby 30 years ago.

These caves are common in limestone country, where softer areas are gradually worn away by weather to form the perfect spot for a moa to take a nap.


Lemon-Scented Eucalypt

The upper section of Chambers Walk is planted with a grove of Eucalyptus Citriodora, or Lemon-Scented Eucalypts which grow to around 35 metres in height and are native to Australia. Also known as the Blue Spotted Gum, they have smooth, pale bark and a narrow-leaved crown which smells strongly of lemons, especially after rain.

The Lemon-Scented Eucalypt is a favourite source of pollen for bees and is also used for structural timber in building. These trees were planted in Te Mata Park in the 1980s and are an important food source for birds and insects.


Chambers Walk

Chambers Walk is named after the family who created Te Mata Park and gifted it in perpetuity to the community. The land that makes up Te Mata Park was included in a large block purchased in 1862 by early farmer settler John Chambers (pictured). In 1927, as a memorial to their father, his sons Bernard, John and Mason gifted a 99 hectare reserve on the upper Havelock North hills, including Te Mata Peak, to the people of Hawke’s Bay. So Te Mata Park was formed and is ours forever, with further protection granted in 1997 under the QEII National Trust for open space.

The Park’s Trust Deed specifies that a male or female descendant of the original grantors must be a member of the Trust. For over 80 years, a long line of Chambers men have been committed to the ongoing care and protection of the Park, though there has yet to be a Chambers woman on the Board. Since 2000, Bruno Chambers, great great grandson of John Chambers, has served on the Trust Board as both Chairman and Trustee.


Kawakawa

Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) is a small tree which is found throughout the North Island and upper South Island of New Zealand and is common in all the bush areas of Te Mata Park. Also known as the pepper tree, kawakawa leaves are often covered with insect holes which are mainly caused by the kawakawa looper moth caterpillar. Kawakawa was one of the most important healing herbs used by Māori and is still widely used today. A tea can be made from the leaves or roots and used for bladder and stomach and indigestion problems and to relieve pain. The leaves are used to heal cuts, bruises and nettle stings. Related to black pepper, Kawakawa seeds can also be used as a cooking spice.

Kawakawa are prolific and vigorous growers and can create such a dense canopy that other plants are suppressed. Some kawakawa are removed to prevent this happening in the Park.


Ongaonga

Ongaonga (Urtica ferox) is a nettle that is found only in New Zealand. Sometimes known as the tree nettle, Ongaonga has woody stems and unusually large stinging spines, and can grow to 5 metres tall, making it the world’s largest nettle.

Even the lightest touch can result in a painful sting that lasts several days. The hollow needle-like spines, which are found on the leaves and stems of the plant are filled with a neurotoxin which causes a rash, irritation, pain and sometimes even damage to the nervous system. There has only been one recorded human death from contact—a lightly clad hunter who died five hours after walking through a dense patch.

Ongaonga has a huge role to play in the recovery of native butterflies as it is the preferred food plant for larvae of the New Zealand red admiral butterfly or kahukura. They also use it as a relatively safe home, rolling up the tree-nettle leaves into ‘tents’ where they are protected from potential predators.

A wonderful ‘wander’ through the varied landscapes of the upper parts of Park— mature trees, native bush and open grassland to dramatic cliffs and panoramic views. The route passes a large grove of Karaka trees, believed to be at least 200 years old.

Karaka Grove

Karaka or New Zealand Laurel (Corynocarpus laevigatus) is an evergreen tree that grows through northern New Zealand. The name karaka is also the Māori term for the colour orange, from the colour of the fruit. Karaka trees are a popular place for smaller birds to sleep during the winter. The karaka’s ability to bear fruit in winter means it is a vital food source for many species, especially for the native New Zealand wood pigeon or kereru. Karaka were very important to Māori as a source of food. The flesh of the fruits could be eaten raw, but the kernels were bitter and very toxic. Because of this, the kernels were soaked in water before being steam-baked for several hours and then washed in running water to remove the husks and ensure all traces of poison had disappeared. The kernels were then dried and stored to be ground into flour and baked into a bread. This grove of karaka is believed to be at least 200 years old.


Fossils

Te Mata Park is full of marine fossils and scallops, oysters and brachiopods can been seen throughout the whole area.

Brachiopods are an important index fossil – their presence giving a clue as to the age of the rocks in which they are found. Using the brachiopods found on Te Mata Peak, archaeologists date the marine sediment lifted up to form the Peak at between 2 and 3 million years old.


Saddle Lookout

The Saddle Lookout offers beautiful views east over the Tukituki River and out to the ocean. The Tukituki has its beginnings in the Ruahine Ranges at the southern end of Hawke’s Bay and flows 117km to the Pacific Ocean. It passes through Waipukurau in Central Hawke’s Bay before flowing towards Hastings and Havelock North where it is divided by the range of hills that includes Te Mata Peak.

According to Māori legend two taniwha lived in a lake at the upper basin of the river. They fought for possession of a young boy who had accidentally fallen into the lake. The struggles of the two taniwha split the river into the Waipawa and Tukituki Rivers and drained the lake. Tukituki means “to demolish” and it is thought that this refers to the destruction of the lake.


Big Redwoods

This grove of 223 stunning California redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) was planted in 1927 and many are now over 40 metres tall. The Chambers family were great experimenters with tree planting and, having generally favoured eucalypts, decided to try a conifer species. Noting the similarities between the climates of Hawke’s Bay and coastal California, they decided to plant a large grove of redwoods.

Native to America, the redwood is an evergreen and extremely long-lived tree with a life span of 2,500 to 3,500 years. They are the tallest trees now living on earth – the record-holder is the Hyperion tree in Northern California which measures 115.61metres (379.3 feet). Redwoods have a conical crown with horizontal branches. Their bark is very thick – up to 30cm – and quite soft and fibrous, with a bright red-brown colour when freshly cut which is where the name redwood comes from. The leaves tend to lie in a flat plane to maximise their ability to capture sunlight. The Big Redwoods is one of the most popular places in Te Mata Park and has been the setting for weddings, concerts and even Shakespearean plays.

Taking you to the very top of the Peak, this is a more challenging trail. Offering spectacular views, the track passes through the Big Redwoods, includes the locals’ favourite ‘Goat Track’, the Peak summit, and travels over the Millenium planting. Steep sections, care needed.

The Summit

Rising to 399m at its summit, Te Mata Peak is a ‘Hog’s Back’ ridge of erosion-resistant limestone dropping steeply to the east. These sedimentary rocks, originally deposited in horizontal layers on the seabed, have been tilted and bowed upward by the geological forces of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates. 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. You can see massive rock cliffs and outcrops, studded with fossils of marine shells, while bush remnants and wetlands remain nestled in the valleys. These cliffs and valleys of the Park are classic limestone features built from the remains of billions of sea creatures that lived and died near the coast between 2 and 3 million years ago.


Big Redwoods

This grove of 223 stunning California redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) was planted in 1927 and many are now over 40 metres tall. The Chambers family were great experimenters with tree planting and, having generally favoured eucalypts, decided to try a conifer species. Noting the similarities between the climates of Hawke’s Bay and coastal California, they decided to plant a large grove of redwoods.

Native to America, the redwood is an evergreen and extremely long-lived tree with a life span of 2,500 to 3,500 years. They are the tallest trees now living on earth – the record-holder is the Hyperion tree in Northern California which measures 115.61metres (379.3 feet). Redwoods have a conical crown with horizontal branches. Their bark is very thick – up to 30cm – and quite soft and fibrous, with a bright red-brown colour when freshly cut which is where the name redwood comes from. The leaves tend to lie in a flat plane to maximise their ability to capture sunlight. The Big Redwoods is one of the most popular places in Te Mata Park and has been the setting for weddings, concerts and even Shakespearean plays.


Little Limestone Cave

Archaeologists are very interested in limestone caves like this one, as they were often used by moa for nesting and sleeping, and some still contain remains of moa droppings. Moa would have certainly roamed through the Park, and bones of the little bush moa were found by local children nearby 30 years ago.

These caves are common in limestone country, where softer areas are gradually worn away by weather to form the perfect spot for a moa to take a nap.


Lemon-Scented Eucalypt

The upper section of Chambers Walk is planted with a grove of Eucalyptus Citriodora, or Lemon-Scented Eucalypts which grow to around 35 metres in height and are native to Australia. Also known as the Blue Spotted Gum, they have smooth, pale bark and a narrow-leaved crown which smells strongly of lemons, especially after rain.

The Lemon-Scented Eucalypt is a favourite source of pollen for bees and is also used for structural timber in building. These trees were planted in Te Mata Park in the 1980s and are an important food source for birds and insects.


Chambers Walk

Chambers Walk is named after the family who created Te Mata Park and gifted it in perpetuity to the community. The land that makes up Te Mata Park was included in a large block purchased in 1862 by early farmer settler John Chambers (pictured). In 1927, as a memorial to their father, his sons Bernard, John and Mason gifted a 99 hectare reserve on the upper Havelock North hills, including Te Mata Peak, to the people of Hawke’s Bay. Thus, Te Mata Park was formed and is ours forever, with further protection granted in 1997 under the QEII National Trust for open space. The Park’s Trust Deed specifies that a male or female descendant of the original grantors must be a member of the Trust. For over 80 years, a long line of Chambers men have been committed to the ongoing care and protection of the Park, though there has yet to be a Chambers woman on the board. Since 2000, Bruno Chambers, great great grandson of John Chambers, has served on the Board as both Chairman and Trustee.


Kawakawa

Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) is a small tree which is found throughout the North Island and upper South Island of New Zealand and is common in all the bush areas of Te Mata Park. Also known as the pepper tree, kawakawa leaves are often covered with insect holes which are mainly caused by the kawakawa looper moth caterpillar. Kawakawa was one of the most important healing herbs used by Māori and is still widely used today. A tea can be made from the leaves or roots and used for bladder, stomach and indigestion problems as well as to relieve pain. The leaves are used to heal cuts, bruises and nettle stings. Related to black pepper, Kawakawa seeds can also be used as a cooking spice.

Kawakawa are prolific and vigorous growers and can create such a dense canopy that other plants are suppressed. Some kawakawa are removed to prevent this happening in the Park.

Taking you to the very top of the Peak, this is a more challenging trail. Offering spectacular views, the track passes through the Big Redwoods, includes the locals’ favourite ‘Goat Track’, the Peak summit, and travels over the Millenium planting. Steep sections, care needed.

The Giant’s Bite

From this vantage point looking east you can see the ‘bite’ associated with the legend of Te Mata. From the Heretaunga Plains, the hill can be seen as the prostrate body of the chief Rongokako, the grandfather of Kahungunu and ancestor of all iwi of Ngāti Kahungunu. The legend tells how Te Mata o Rongokako, leader of the coastal Waimarama tribes, had set out to make war against the Heretaunga peoples but instead was lured by Hinerakau, the beautiful daughter of a Pakipaki chief. Hinerakau set Rongokako on many impossible tasks, the last of which was to bite his way through the hills between the coast and the plains so that people could come and go with greater ease. Te Mata died proving his love, choking on the last mouthful of the earth of Te Mata Park.

Today, his work can be seen in the hills as what is known as The Gap or Pari Karangaranga (echoing cliffs). The outline of his fallen body seen from the Heretaunga Plains includes Te Mata Peak, also known as The Sleeping Giant.


Snakes & Ladders

This one kilometre section of walking track that runs between the Big Redwoods and the summit was created in 2013 by the Park’s caretaker, Shaun Gilbert. Unlike Te Mata who was defeated by the impossible task set him by Hinerakau in the legend of Te Mata Peak, Shaun was not daunted by the distance and very steep sections and has succeeded in creating access to a stunning area of the Park. He has formed this entire section of track by hand with just the help of a pick and shovel.


The Summit

Rising to 399m at its summit, Te Mata Peak is a ‘Hog’s Back’ ridge of erosion-resistant limestone dropping steeply to the east. These sedimentary rocks, originally deposited in horizontal layers on the seabed, have been tilted and bowed upward by the geological forces of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates. 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. You can see massive rock cliffs and outcrops, studded with fossils of marine shells, while bush remnants and wetlands remain nestled in the valleys. These cliffs and valleys of the Park are classic limestone features built from the remains of billions of sea creatures that lived and died near the coast between 2 and 3 million years ago.


Big Redwoods

This grove of 223 stunning California redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) was planted in 1927 and many are now over 40 metres tall. The Chambers family were great experimenters with tree planting and, having generally favoured eucalypts, decided to try a conifer species. Noting the similarities between the climates of Hawke’s Bay and coastal California, they decided to plant a large grove of redwoods.

Native to America, the redwood is an evergreen and extremely long-lived tree with a life span of 2,500 to 3,500 years. They are the tallest trees now living on earth – the record-holder is the Hyperion tree in Northern California which measures 115.61metres (379.3 feet). Redwoods have a conical crown with horizontal branches. Their bark is very thick – up to 30cm – and quite soft and fibrous, with a bright red-brown colour when freshly cut which is where the name redwood comes from. The leaves tend to lie in a flat plane to maximise their ability to capture sunlight. The Big Redwoods is one of the most popular places in Te Mata Park and has been the setting for weddings, concerts and even Shakespearean plays.


Saddle Lookout

The Saddle Lookout offers beautiful views east over the Tukituki River and out to the ocean. The Tukituki has its beginnings in the Ruahine Ranges at the southern end of Hawke’s Bay and flows 117km to the Pacific Ocean. It passes through Waipukurau in Central Hawke’s Bay before flowing towards Hastings and Havelock North where it is divided by the range of hills that includes Te Mata Peak. According to Māori legend, two taniwha lived in a lake at the upper basin of the river. They fought for possession of a young boy who had accidentally fallen into the lake. The struggles of the two taniwha split the river into the Waipawa and Tukituki Rivers and drained the lake. Tukituki means “to demolish” and it is thought that this refers to the destruction of the lake.

Kawakawa

Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) is a small tree which is found throughout the North Island and upper South Island of New Zealand and is common in all the bush areas of Te Mata Park. Also known as the pepper tree, kawakawa leaves are often covered with insect holes which are mainly caused by the kawakawa looper moth caterpillar. Kawakawa was one of the most important healing herbs used by Māori and is still widely used today. A tea can be made from the leaves or roots and used for bladder, stomach and indigestion problems as well as to relieve pain. The leaves are used to heal cuts, bruises and nettle stings. Related to black pepper, Kawakawa seeds can also be used as a cooking spice.

Kawakawa are prolific and vigorous growers and can create such a dense canopy that other plants are suppressed. Some kawakawa are removed to prevent this happening in the Park.