"the scented pathway of Kahu"
Pirongia maunga is not just a dominating feature on the Waikato western skyline, it is a living entity; the streams that flow down his flanks forming the veins and arteries of his body carrying vital life essence through the region.
Brother to Mt. Karioi and husband to Mt. Taupiri, Pirongia is an important figure in Māori folklore. The legendary and mysterious patupaiarehe (fairy folk) call the misty mountain tops of Pirongia home. The maunga has provided shelter, food and resource for a number of centuries.
Local Māori view the kaitiakitanga of Pirongia as a reciprocal relationship, if we look after and respect the maunga, the maunga will provide for us. As users of the Pirongia Forest Park we have a responsibility to be guardians of the landscape and preserve this balance.
Looking west from Hamilton, or anywhere in the Waikato region, it's hard to miss the beautiful Pirongia skyline. A volcano, formed by successive basaltic eruption over 2.5 million years ago, Pirongia reaches 959m above sea-level and holds the distinction of the Waikato's tallest peak.
Botanically, the Pirongia Forest Park harbours an interesting flora, with the northern flanks marking the southern limit of kauri and mangeao trees; and the ridges home to the endangered Dactylanthus (Wood Rose), NZ's only flowering parasitic plant.
The maunga is also home to one of NZ's most successful re-establishing programmes for the endangered kōkako. The Pirongia Te Aroaro Kahu Restoration Society has translocated 44 of the birds to Mt Pirongia and they are now breeding successfully.
Kereru (wood pigeon), piwakawaka (fantail) and tui will also no doubt keep you company as you traverse through the native forest.
The mighty Waikato can get a bad rap, particularly from those Aucklanders. It's an undeserved reputation; the Waikato is the heart of the country, with plenty to get stuck into. Our mates over at Hamilton and Waikato Tourism have put together a nifty little guide that locals and out of towners will love. Check it out - it documents only a fraction of the reasons why we are awesome. Tu meke Waikato, tu meke.