Te Mata Park and its famous peak is one of the most loved and visited places in Hawke’s Bay. Gifted in perpetuity to the community in 1927 and managed by a small group of volunteer trustees, with appreciated help from local councils and the community, the Park is a cultural, historical and recreational treasure offering fabulous 360-degree views across the area.
Explore Te Mata Peak with Tour Napier
All the tours shown either include a visit to the Peak as standard or can include it on request
Key dates in history
1300s - Early settlement
There is evidence of past settlement from this period, including pā sites and other earthworks. The Karaka groves in the upper Te Hau Valley area and Moa bones found on the slopes suggest intensive Māori settlement.
1769 - James Cook
Captain James Cook sighted New Zealand on 6 October 1769, and landed at Poverty Bay two days later. He drew detailed and accurate maps of the country, and wrote about the Māori people.
His first encounter with Māori was not successful – a fight broke out in which some Māori were killed. However, after this Cook and his men are reported to have had friendly contact with Māori.
1820 - Waikato Maori invasion
The Waikato Māori are said to have invaded the Te Mata area and the Ngāti Pare tribe, which lived along the range as far as Mt Erin, made its last stand at Pakake on the western spurs of Te Mata Peak. The women and children who were spared went to the top and held a funeral ceremony looking toward Cape Kidnappers and cutting their faces and bodies with sharp flints. They were then taken to Waikato.
Chiefteness Winipere was also captured and recited a lament as she said farewell to Heretaunga from Te Mata Peak; this song was well known by elders as a funeral chant.
1862 - John Chambers
1926 - Redwoods planted
The grove of 223 stunning California redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) was planted in 1926 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 and the tallest of all trees, the redwood is an evergreen and extremely long-lived tree with a life span of 2,500 to 3,500 years.
1977 - QE2 National Trust
In 1977, Te Mata Park was placed under a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII National Trust) covenant to ensure permanent protection of this iconic landscape. The purpose of this covenant is to promote the provision, protection and enhancement of open space, for the benefit and enjoyment of all people in New Zealand.
Paul Sweeney is the joint owner-operator of Tour Napier & Napier Classic Cars