Auckland / Fun / New Zealand / Science / travel / volcanoes

One Tree Hill

Here is a place I take for granted. I grew up in the shadow of this volcanic cone. I walked my dogs there weekly as a child and teenager. I played in the playground in Cornwall Park as a child and thought it was the best thing ever. We ran with the sheep and chased chickens, explored the volcanic craters (the volcano is dormant) and maori archeological pits, flew kites close to the summit and collected pine cones in the winter.

Many years later, who’d have thought my kids would get to do some of the same.

This is the same train track my brother and I rode on as kids. The train is the same design. The only reason it isn’t the same train probably has to do with the morons who try and steal it from time to time. It gave us hours of fun when we were kids, and I think the photo above speaks for itself as to how much fun my family had on it.

I would argue the view from One Tree Hill is the best in Auckland, superior to the tourist hotspot of Mt Eden as it gives a more centralised view of the sprawling isthmus, harbours (Auckland has 2) and the Hauraki Gulf. We took the kids up to the summit and they loved it. Despite the cold and wind, they dragged us around, pointing to different features in the urban sprawl and asking “what’s that?”.

You might be able to make out Rangitoto Island behind Mitchell. We traversed it last year when we were in Auckland. The one thing missing in this photo is the “one tree”, which has not been replaced since some activist chopped it down many years ago. We affectionately refer to the place as No Tree Hill, although it pains me to see it so barren on top. You used to be able to see the tree and its obelisk from almost all over Auckland.

This is the base of one of the Horseshoe craters on One Tree Hill. I love these natural amphitheaters. It is so hard to think that at one time this area was spewing lava like the volcanoes of Hawaii. (Sorry – geographer in me couldn’t resist this pic or commentary). Bethany is here with Flat Stanley – her Year 3 homework project for the school holidays. Lucky Stanley got to come to New Zealand with us.


One Tree Hill is also home to the Auckland Stardome Observatory. While we were there they ran some awesome (and VERY reasonably priced) shows in their planetarium on a huge dome over our heads. The kids really enjoyed it, and Bethany learned how our sun was created and more about the planets. What really impressed me was the knowledge of the guy hosting the shows. He would do a Q&A after each session, and was able to point out planets, stars and constellations in the Auckland night sky with confident knowledge.

There is a small space “museum” with information on rockets, planets, space exploration, etc. It isn’t anything exciting, but the kids had a great time. They particularly liked creating turbidity in cloud formations on planets by spinning a giant sphere with liquid inside.

There’s more to One Tree Hill than just the grass… still more for the kids to do there next year. 😉

P.S Useless piece of trivia. Xena the warrior princess (the TV show) used to use One Tree Hill as one of it’s shoot locations. 😉


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