Visited on 3 June
We drove as far as we could along Ihumatao Quarry road (that should be a clue as to what used to go on here) and parked outside the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve. We knew we were about to meet Auckland’s smallest volcano (or at least the crater with the smallest diameter ~30 metres); the aptly named Pukeiti, literally ‘the little hill’.
We entered the reserve and walked down the wide access path parallel to this stone wall. At the end we turned right, went through a gate and under the tall trees. Emerging from under their branches we could see the “little” hill rising up in front of us.
Pukeiti’s sacred name is Puketapapakanga a Hape refering to “the small, flat-topped hill where Hape arrived”. I’ve read an alternate spelling of Pukutapapatanga a Hape also within Hayward’s Volcanoes of Auckland and on the SOUL website so pardon my ignorance for not knowing the correct spelling.
For a moment in time I felt intensely connected to the past. Here I was looking out over the same landscape as Hape and other settlers of the area for the last 800 or so years. His view would’ve been slightly different though: Puketutu Island across the water would’ve been higher and more pointed before quarrying began, nearby Otuataua would’ve been a cone instead of a crater, the surrounding volcanic fields would’ve been criss-crossed by intact paenga-maru (sheltering and dividing walls) and filled with abundant produce. Whatever the differences, though, we would’ve both looked out over the same tidal mudflats and observed the variation that water ebbing back and forth brings to the landscape.
I loved this volcano! Still the most astounding thought to me is that it’s so close to Auckland’s Airport, literally on our international doorstep. I would definitely recommend taking visitors here and locals too as everyone I’ve talked to has no idea of it’s existence either. Make it a must-see next time you pick up from or drop off a friend at the airport.