The biggest city in New Zealand – Auckland – is built on a volcanic field and there are approximately 50 volcanoes within the city area. It might sound scary but most of these volcanoes erupted over the last 250,000 years and they are extinct now. These volcanoes define Auckland’s unique landscape. Not only hills and volcanic cones, but also some of the city lakes are of volcanic origin.
Some of the volcanoes are now unrecognizable as they were quarried away over the years for their stone and metal resources. Others are now covered by buildings and city structures. For example, there is a volcanic crater in the central Auckland suburb of Grafton buried by houses and roads. Another example is the current location of Victoria street in central Auckland – it was one of the earliest volcanoes that erupted in the area.
But there are still many distinctive volcanic cones and craters in Auckland and they are popular places to visit to admire panoramic city views and enjoy nature. We have visited all of these locations in the city and here is our top pick of 20+ Volcanoes to see in Auckland:
Please note, I use English names of the volcanoes along with their respective Maori names in brackets.
Mount Eden (Maungawhau)
Mount Eden – Maungawhau – is the highest of Auckland’s volcanoes and has one of the best views to the city skyline. Leave the car at one of the two carparks at the foot of the mountain and take a walk to the viewing platform at the summit. There is a path around the 50m deep crater that you can walk to enjoy the views from the different points.
Mt Eden is unsurprisingly one of the most popular volcanic cones in Auckland – you can enjoy 360 degree views over the city and the crater. The newest addition is the boardwalk around the crater and the viewing platform overlooking Auckland city.
If your stay in Auckland is short and you have time only to view one or two volcanoes, make sure it includes Mount Eden.
One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie)
Another very popular and prominent volcanic cone in Auckland is One Tree Hill.
One Tree Hill – Maungakiekie – is 182m high volcano surrounded by two city parks – Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill Domain.
Name of ‘One Tree Hill’ comes from the olden days where there was a lone tree standing on top of the mountain. The tree was cut a long time ago but the name has remained. These days there is an obelisk on top of the hill and a statue of a Maori warrior.
Make sure to also explore One Tree Hill park and Cornwall park with their tree groves, many walking paths, public BBQ sites, green areas and nice views.
North Head (Maungauika)
North Head is one of our favourite places and one of the two most prominent mountain features of Devonport, North Shore. The volcanic cone of North Head is popular for its spectacular views of Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto Island.
In the olden days North Head was used by the New Zealand army for defense purposes. It still has some remains of old barracks, guns, military batteries and underground tunnels, many of which are open to the public. That makes North Head even more popular, especially when visiting with kids. Our boys always enjoy visiting North Head if not for the views, but for exploring the gun emplacements and walking in the tunnels with a flashlight.
Mount Victoria (Takarunga)
Another prominent mountain feature of Devonport is Mount Victoria. Mount Victoria is the highest volcano on the North Shore and the views from it towards the harbour and Auckland city skyline are simply spectacular.
The Maori name ‘Takarunga’ means ‘hill standing above’ and comes from the height of the volcano. Europeans has named the mountain after Queen Victoria.
Mt Victoria has also served for military and defensive purposes against a feared Russian invasion in the 19th century. But unlike North Head it doesn’t have many historical sights left for the public to explore.
Rangitoto Island is the iconic feature of Hauraki Gulf and is the youngest volcano in the Auckland volcanic field. It erupted only 600 years ago, at the times when Maori had already settled on the adjoining Motutapu Island.
You can visit Rangitoto Island by ferry and spend a half or a whole day on it. We recommend walking to the summit of the volcano for spectacular Auckland views. There are a number of walking tracks on the island. The most popular one – Rangitoto summit track – takes about 2 hr return. You can also walk around to explore lava fields and a few beaches on the island.
Keep in mind that there are no shops on Rangitoto island, so plan in advance and bring everything you need with you. Check the Department of Conservation website for lots of useful information on visiting Rangitoto Island.
Rangitoto Island is a very popular tourist destination in Auckland, with a limited number of ferries going to/from the island daily. We recommend booking ferry tickets in advance to avoid disappointments.
Browns Island (Motukorea)
Next in our list of 20+ volcanoes to see in Auckland is a small volcanic island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf – Browns Island. You can get there by boat or kayak to explore the island’s walking trails, for bird watching or just swimming. Alternatively, take a helicopter tour to view Browns Island along with other parts of Auckland from high above.
Mangere Mountain (Te Pane-o-Mataaho/Te Ara Pueru), Mangere Lagoon and Puketutu Island
Mangere Mountain is one of the largest and best preserved volcanic cones in Auckland. It has two craters and one of them has a unique feature – a lava dome in the center of the crater. The mountain is part of Mangere Domain – a big green park with walking paths to the mountain summit, educational center and some sport fields.
Right next to the mountain is Mangere Lagoon – a water covered volcanic crater. If you walk around the rim of Mangere mountain crater you can enjoy the views to the craters, to Mangere bridge, Auckland city in the distance, Mangere Lagoon and Puketutu Island.
After Mangere Mountain you can visit a volcanic island of Puketutu or take a 2.3 km walk around Mangere Lagoon.
Auckland Domain volcano (Pukekawa)
One of the oldest and largest parks of Auckland city – Auckland Domain – is located on the site of Pukekawa volcano. Pukekawa is one of oldest volcanoes in the Auckland volcanic field, erupting over 100000 years ago.
Auckland Domain is a very popular park. Besides the Pukekawa crater, you will find there numerous walks, winter gardens, sport fields, water pond and a museum. Auckland War Memorial Museum (standing on the crater rim of Pukekawa) has a permanent exhibition on Volcanoes we really recommend to visit.
Lake Pupuke (Pupukemoana)
Lake Pupuke is a freshwater lake located in a volcanic crater between the Takapuna and Milford suburbs of Auckland’s North Shore. The lake and its surrounding area is a popular recreation place. Often you will find kayaks, boats and fishermen on the lake.
When our kids were smaller we liked to go to Lake Pupuke to feed numerous birds – black swans and geese – inhabiting Killarney Park by the lake.
It might not look like a volcano crater any longer, but Onepoto (better known as Onepoto Domain park) is a crater formed by eruptions some 250000 years ago. At one point Onepoto was covered in water and was a tidal lagoon. But nowadays Onepoto Domain is a popular park in the North Shore. It features small ponds, walking tracks and a big playground with bike paths for kids.
Orakei Basin and Little Rangitoto
Orakei Basin is one of Auckland’s craters that is covered with water and forms a tidal lagoon. There is a nice and easy 1 hour walk that will take you around the lagoon. If you are in the area, have a look at the Little Rangitoto volcano next to Orakei Basin. As the name suggests, Little Rangitoto (also known as Rangitoto-iti or Maungarahiri) is a small volcanic hill surrounded by the reserve of the same name.
More volcanoes in Auckland
There are few other volcanoes in Auckland that are less popular with visitors due to being located further from the city center or being smaller in size or with less breathtaking views from the top. But there are nevertheless worth mentioning in our list of 20+ Volcanoes to see in Auckland.
Mount Albert (Ōwairaka/Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura)
Mount Albert volcano is located in the suburb with the same name. It was a fortified Maori settlement back in the days, and even now some of the man-made terraces are recognizable on the slopes of the volcano.
There is a viewing platform at the top of the summit with the views to the surrounding suburbs and Auckland city skyline (quite afar, though; for better city views – go to Mt Eden).
Mount Hobson (Ōhinerau)
Mount Hobson is a 143 m high volcanic cone located in Remuera suburb of Auckland. There is a short walking track starting off Remuera Road. It’s a 20-30 mins walk to the top of Mt Hobson where you can enjoy views to Auckland and Waitemata Harbour.
Mount Richmond (Ōtāhuhu)
Mount Richmond (Maori name is Ōtāhuhu) is located in the suburb of the same name – Otahuhu. It has a few small cones (hardly distinguishing nowadays) that were formed by an eruption around 30000 years ago. Climb to the top for the nice views of Manukau Harbour and the surrounding area.
Pukeiti is one of the smallest volcanic cones in Auckland with a crater about 30 m wide. During the eruption thouthands years ago lots of lava flows formed what’s now known as Otuataua Stonefields reserve. Have a walk around Pukeiti cone or in the reserve, but please keep in mind that the reserve is a sacred place for Maori. Just follow the marked path and don’t disturb or move the rocks.
Glover Park at St. Heliers
St Heliers is a seaside suburb of Auckland popular for its beaches and relaxed atmosphere. But not many people know that there is actually a volcanic crater in St Heliers. Clover Park in St Heliers is located in the volcanic explosion crater. While the crater is not that impressive to see (compared to many other craters in Auckland), the area is a nice place to visit for its views (from Achilles Point) toward the Browns and Rangitoto islands.
Mount Wellington (Maungarei)
Mount Wellington volcano was formed around 10000 years ago making it the youngest onshore volcano of the Auckland volcanic field. You can access Mt Wellington’s summit by foot for the views of the crater, Panmure Basin (read below) and the surrounding suburbs. For the Auckland city views though Mt Wellington is too far and it’s better to go to Mt Eden.
Mount Roskill (Puketāpapa)
Mount Roskill volcanic cone is located in the suburb of the same name. You can drive most of the way up Mount Roskill or park your car at the small car park and have a walk to the summit.
Panmure Basin (Kaiahiku)
Panmure basin is a water covered volcanic crater partly enclosed from the sea. It’s connected to the sea by the Tamaki river and is affected by tides. There is a walking path around the basin, a playground in the park and a leisure center with indoor and outdoor pools right next to Panmure Basin.
Mount Saint John (Te Kōpuke/Tītīkōpuke)
Mount St John is a volcanic cone in Auckland’s suburb of Epsom. Walk to the summit of the mountain to enjoy the views to the surrounding area, into the crater and to the nearby Mt Eden and Mt Hobson.
The name of ‘Te Kōpuke’ comes from Maori ‘the prominent mound’ and in the olden days it was a Māori settlement (in fact, the majority of the volcanic cones in Auckland were Maori settlements at some point).
Big King (Te Tātua-a-Riukiuta)
Once upon a time, Te Tātua-a-Riukiuta had three big volcanic cones and a number of smaller cones. Hence, the volcano had been known as Three Kings and the suburb, where it’s located, is called Three Kings too.
Unfortunately, most of the cones were quarried away since then and only one big cone has left – the Big King cone. Even though the suburb still has the name of Three Kings, the volcano and the park name is Big King these days.
Pigeon Mountain (Ōhuiarangi)
Pigeon Mountain in Half Moon Bay is a 55 m high volcanic cone. The name comes from the native pigeons and pigeonwood trees. As with many other remnants of Auckland’s volcanoes parts of Pigeon Mountain were quarried away over the years.
We hope you enjoyed our top pick of 20+ Volcanoes to see in Auckland. Read next: 5 Best Waterfalls near Auckland