During the first Christmas we spent in New Zealand, in 2014, we decided to climb the Te Ara Hikurangi mountain in Ngati Porou area. With its 1752 meters, it is the highest mountain of non-volcanic origin in the North Island. Mt Hikurangi is situated on the east coast and thanks to its location, it is the first place in New Zealand to welcome sunrise each morning. The mountain is sacred to local Ngati Porou people. Maori legend suggests that when the demigod Maui fished up the North Island of New Zealand, Mount Hikurangi was the first point to emerge from the sea. The mountain is also said to be the resting place of the waka (canoe) Nukutaimemeha, which Maui used on that famous fishing trip.
The night before our climb, we camped at the mountain’s base and set off the following morning. We enjoyed a beautiful walk through NZ fairy-tale landscape, green hills, herds of sheep, cows and horses as well as a strenuous hike (or rather a tough climb on our all four) to the summit. Ascending and descending took us about 10 hours so we spent one night in the hut halfway to the summit. We got up half past four in the morning to climb in the dark with our headlamps and to welcome the sunrise on the summit. Unfortunately, the weather was too cloudy and we couldn’t see a thing. Despite that, I’ll never forget the first mountain I climbed in New Zealand.
“Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei”
“Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain”
This whakatauki is about aiming high or for what is truly valuable, but its real message is to be persistent and don’t let obstacles stop you from reaching your goal.