Hunua Ranges

The Hunua Ranges is a mountain range and regional park to the southeast of Auckland, in Franklin in the Auckland Region of New Zealand's North Island. The ranges cover some 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi) and rise to 688 metres (2255 ft) at Kohukohunui.[1]

Hunua Ranges
Mangatangi Reservoir in the Hunua Ranges
Hunua Ranges is located in New Zealand Auckland
Hunua Ranges
LocationFranklin, Auckland, New Zealand
Coordinates37°04′S 175°11′E / 37.07°S 175.18°E / -37.07; 175.18Coordinates: 37°04′S 175°11′E / 37.07°S 175.18°E / -37.07; 175.18
AreaRanges: 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi)
Regional park: 178 square kilometres (69 sq mi)
Operated byAuckland Council
OpenDaylight saving: 6am-9pm
Non-daylight saving: 6am-7pm
Pedestrian access: 24 hours

Auckland Council owns and manages 178 square kilometres (69 sq mi) of the ranges as a regional park open to the public.[2]


The ranges are located approximately 50 kilometres (30 mi) southeast of the main Auckland urban area, above the western shore of the Firth of Thames.[3] They are sparsely populated, and mostly lie within the boundaries of the Waharau and Hunua Ranges Regional Parks. The settlement of Hunua lies on the foot of the Hunua Ranges.[4]

The ranges are covered in largest area of native bush in Auckland,[5] with streams, waterfalls, and hills overlooking the Auckland Region and Hauraki Gulf.[2]

Auckland gets much of its water from reservoirs sources from rivers and streams, including the Hunua Falls on the Wairoa River.[6]


Kohukohunui (688 metres (2,257 ft)) is the highest point in the Hunua Ranges.[7]

The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage gives a translation of "great mist" for Kohukohunui.[8]


Pre-European settlementEdit

Māori made some use of the ranges and early European visitors found areas of clearing that had been used as gardens. Ngāi Tai are tangata whenua. Some Māori archaeological sites are known. The main part of the ranges was subject to confiscation after the New Zealand Wars.[1]

Early European use of the ranges was for timber extraction and for farming but low soil fertility limited success. There has been some mining of Manganese in the past. Gold prospecting for quartz reefs has never found payable reefs.[1]

20th centuryEdit

From the 1920s onwards the land was progressively bought by Auckland City Council utilising funds from its water supply operation.[9] Development of the water supplies commenced in the late 1940s, with the first of the four dams, Cossey's, completed with a capacity of 11.3 million cubic meters. Three further dams: Mangatawhiri, Wairoa and Mangatangi were completed in 1965,1975 and 1977 respectively. Combined, the dams have a capacity of 77.1 million cubic meters, and supply approximately 68% of Auckland's potable water, through the Ardmore Water Treatment Plant.[10]

The bulk water supply operation and the land passed to the newly formed Auckland Regional Authority in 1964. The Authority completed the water supply development and continued the exotic afforestation on some of the north and western catchment land, started by the City Council, and its Water Department administered the land.[9]

The water operation was corporatised as Watercare Services in 1992, but the land itself remained with the Auckland Regional Council (as it was by then). Watercare took ownership of the water related assets and took a long term lease from the Auckland Regional Council of the reservoir areas and the operational areas. The exotic forestry land was also leased to another party. The catchment land became regional park land.[11]

21st centuryEdit

In November 2010, the southernmost part of the Hunua Ranges were transferred to Waikato region.[12] This determines the local government administrative boundaries, but the ownership of the former Auckland Regional Council park land went to the Auckland Council and that of the water assets is unchanged with Watercare Services.[10]

Extensive flooding in the Hunua Ranges in March 2017 cut off roads.[13] People staying on the ranges had to be evacuated.[14]

In May 2018, parts of the park were closed to stop the spread of Kauri dieback.[15][16] Some of the tracks reopened in late 2020.[17]

In September and October 2018, the entire park was closed during a 1080 pest control programme.[18] The programme was subject to an unsuccessful legal challenge.[19]


Activities in the regional park include walking, mountain-biking, bird-watching and drone-flying. Weddings and horse-riding are allowed by permit. Swimming is not recommended due to safety risks. Trout-fishing is allowed on the Wairoa River downstream from the Hunua Ranges with permission from private landowners.[2]

Smoking, outdoor fires and visible alcohol consumption are banned at the park. Dogs are restricted to certain areas, and banned during lambing and calving season. Waste must be taken off-site to be disposed of.[2]

The park has accommodation, picnic tables, drinking fountains, public toilet and carpark facilities, including facilities for people with disabilities. It can be accessed by private vehicle using an unsealed road. The park gates are open 6am-9pm during daylight saving, and 6am-7pm during the rest of the year.[2]


  • Suspension Bridge Loop (90 minutes, 3.5 km) is a walking track
  • Hunua Falls Upper Lookout Walk (30 minutes, 800 m) is a walking track that is suitable for prams but not wheelchairs
  • Massey Track (3.25 hours, 5 km) is a walking track
  • Cossey - Massey Loop Walk (3 hours, 8.3 km) is a walking track
  • Cossey Gorge Track (30 minutes, 2.1 km) is a walking track
  • Ernies Track (4 hours, is a tramping track
  • Liburne Road Track (80 minutes, 5.1 km) is a tramping track
  • Lower Mangatawhiri Track (4 hours, 6.4 km) is a tramping track
  • Mangatangi Ridge Track (6 hours, 9.1 km) is a tramping track for moderate levels of fitness
  • Mangatangi Trig Track (3 hours, 3.9 km) is a walking track
  • Mangatawhiri Challenge Track (120 minutes, 15 km) is a mountain biking track
  • Mine Road Track (80 minutes, 2.1 km), a walking track
  • Moumoukai Farm Track (100 minutes, 15 km), a tramping track
  • Pukapuka Track (4 hours, 6.4 km), a walking track
  • Rata Ridge Track (120 minutes, 3.8 km), a walking track
  • Upper Mangatawhiri Track (3 hours, 4.8 km), a walking track
  • Valley Loop Track (90 minutes, 14 km), a tramping track)
  • Wairoa Loop Track (3 hours, 6.5 km), a walking track
  • Workman Track (6 hours, 10.2 km), a walking track
  • Waharau Ridge Track (3.5 hours, 14 km), a tramping track[2]


  1. ^ a b c "Hunua Ranges", An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966. Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 26 September 2006. Accessed 15 March 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Council profile". Auckland Council.
  3. ^ "The Hunua Ranges [...] are bounded on the east by the Firth of Thames, the north by the Tamaki Strait, the west by the Wairoa River, and the south by the lower reaches of the Mangatangi River." Barton, I. L. (March 1972). "On the Vegetation of the Hunua Ranges, Auckland" (PDF). New Zealand Journal of Botany. 10: 8–26. doi:10.1080/0028825x.1972.10430207. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
  4. ^ Hunua and Waharau Regional Parks, Auckland Regional Council.
  5. ^ Thornber, Laura (12 February 2021). "Suburb spotlight: Why you should visit Clevedon, Auckand". Stuff Travel.
  6. ^ Hunua and Waharau Regional Parks, Auckland Regional Council.
  7. ^ "Kohukohunui Peak, Waharau Regional Park". Wilderness Magazine.
  8. ^ "1000 Māori place names". New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 6 August 2019.
  9. ^ a b Barton, Ian L. 1978 "Auckland's south eastern bulwark : a history of the Hunua Ranges". Privately published.
  10. ^ a b [1] Archived 2013-02-10 at the Wayback Machine, Watercare Services Ltd. Retrieved 22 February 2013
  11. ^ Barton, Ian L. 2001 "Hunua, The place and its people: a view from 2000". Privately published.
  12. ^ Franklin Ward map, Auckland Council. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  13. ^ "Expect the unexpected as weather wreaks havoc across the top of the North Island". 8 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Military to help school campsite evacuation in Hunua Ranges". New Zealand Media and Entertainment. New Zealand Herald. 8 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Keeping kauri standing in the Hunua Ranges". Auckland Council. Our Auckland. 4 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Protect our kauri trees". Auckland Council.
  17. ^ Tokalau, Torika (9 August 2020). "Kauri dieback: More Auckland regional park tracks to open by end of year".
  18. ^ "Hunua parks are all open". Auckland Council. Our Auckland. 23 October 2018.
  19. ^ Neilson, Michael (20 March 2021). "Council liquidating Friends of Sherwood Trust over legal challenge". New Zealand Media and Entertainment. New Zealand Herald.