Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reaching the summit

 We took a pause in the last post, as we climbed Maungawhau. It's getting steep now, but the sun is reaching the high slopes
 and illuminating the distant cone of Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill).
 Here we are, just one more scramble up the sides and we will have reached the highest point on the Auckland isthmus (196 m, or 643 feet),
 and from here, under the lowering clouds, we can see that this cone has not only height, but depth.
Here is the surprise: a perfectly shaped crater, 50 metres deep (160 feet). Two decades ago, drummers used to sit in the cold shadow at the bottom of the crater at winter solstice and drum up the sunrise. But now there is a sign asking visitors not to descend as the crater is a fragile and sacred archeological site.
The crater was known at Te Kaupa kai a Mataaho: the food bowl of Mataaho, who was the god of volcanic eruptions. 28,000 years ago Mataaho had plenty of food, which he was flinging far and wide in spectacular displays, but now he is sleeping.
Maungawhau was once a pa site, a fortified village, and like the other cones, still has the remains of kumara pits dug into its sides. The light is fading fast now, and the bank of clouds is threatening rain, but in the golden glow of early evening we have a last view, out towards the gentle contours of Rangitoto island, which erupted only 600 years ago.

We are reminded of the fiery history of Auckland, and give thanks that we are living here when the volcano god has emptied his food bowl and is now deeply slumbering, or has slipped away to vent his energy in the central plateau of the north island, where no city has been built.


Unknown said...

To have my eyes and heart opened to the volcanic cones within Auckland has been a wonderful journey thank you Juliet. How appreciative I am for the history, the stunning photos demonstrating the beauty of these aspects of our Auckland isthmus - so there and yet easily forgotten, and for your personal journeys on each of them. Yes it certainly is inspirational.

Juliet said...

Hilary, what a delight to have your comment and to know you are appreciating these walks on the cones! Thank you, I'm enjoying these visits and discovering how the cones relate to one another.

Penny O'Neill said...

Reading this, absorbing the beauty of your photos and depth of your words, I feel a bit like small child, Juliet, rapt in interest over Mataaho. What a wonderful journey this is, and thank you, my teacher, for I am learning so much about the cones.

Juliet said...

* Penny, it's such a pleasure, and thank you for coming along with me. It's quite amazing to think of how much of our landforms were created by Mataaho, who is still active from time to time in the central plateau of the north island. We are a young country, geologically speaking.

Lynley said...

I love your words describing how these volcanoes are parks that lift people high above the hustle and bustle of a very busy city which often has traffic snarls and other frustrations for the inhabitants.

I hope Mataaho is resting deeply. The earth beneath us here can be very volatile.

Juliet said...

Lynley, it's like breathing different air up there on the cones. So refreshing. I too hope that Mataaho is in deep slumber. Thank you.

Anne Else said...

When I was five I used to wander round the lower slopes with my grandmother. Dad would drive us to the top for a Sunday outing sand I used to find the shell beds up there... That mountain hams been part of my life for so long, but I never walked up it. Thank you, Juliet.

Juliet said...

Anne, how special to have these childhood memories of Maungawhau, and how interesting that you never walked up it. When I lived in Mt Eden I used to walk up it regularly with a friend who lived there too. Thank you for your comment, good to see you here.

Anonymous said...

What a surprise to be shown the deep crater at the top of the climb and to realise that Rangitoto is still a geological baby at 600 years of age. May all the volcanoes rest peacefully!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Juliet - what wonderful views - and they look right in the centre of the main Auckland area .. lovely to see ..

Cheers Hilary

Terry and Linda said...

Very, very interesting!!


Juliet said...

* Gallivanta, I'd hoped to descend into the crater for a photo but it was not to be - and for good reasons of protection. Yes indeed, may they all stay asleep!

* Hilary, yes we are right in the centre of Auckland with this one.

* Linda, we live in such different worlds. I find yours fascinating too.

Thank you Gallivanta, Hilary and Linda, so good to see you here.

Hotly Spiced said...

Thank goodness that crater is now extinct otherwise Auckland could be the modern day Pompeii! The view from the summit must be absolutely stunning on a gorgeous day xx

Juliet said...

* Charlie, an extinct crater is my kind of crater. The views in all directions are fantastic. Thank you.