From the lower slopes of Owairaka we could see the Waitemata harbour to the north.
But in the 1890s NZ Railways ran a line to the base of the mountain. They built a tramway up the slopes and began to quarry away the scoria from the top. Did Wairaka, the ancestor, turn in her grave? Did she curse and cry?
If she did, it made no difference. 15 metres (nearly 50 feet) were carved off the top of the mountain, and the result is a sad flatness. The scoria was used to construct railways and roads, including the north-western motorway along which I drive to the bach. Eventually, after decades of protest, the quarrying was stopped.
And so I sit, musing on the free-draining scoria that makes my drive to the bach smooth under the tarseal of the motorway; musing on the lost cone.
Musing on the tension between the demands of modern transport needs, and the need to conserve our precious heritage.
And musing on Wairaka, whose heroic action has been forever remembered by her descendants and by those who visit Owairaka.