Mount Manaia towers over Whangārei Harbour in a cluster of majestic craggy peaks, irresistible to anyone who appreciates a dramatic view.
The track to the 420-metre summit is a steady climb through regenerated native bush that includes kauri stands, groves of nīkau and northern rātā hanging from pōhutukawa.
In the steepest bits, the wide gravel path switches to wooden steps and you’ll want to stop at the lookouts on natural rocky outcrops, if not to catch your breath, then definitely to appreciate the view.
From the top, Whangārei Harbour is spread out like a rich tapestry, with shades of blue stretching to the horizon and the intriguing shapes of Bream Bay and the Hen and Chicken Islands.
Be aware that the lookouts have no safety barriers, so stay well away from the drop-offs and supervise children closely.