At 196 metres (643 ft) high, the cone of Mount Eden – a long-dormant volcano – is the highest natural point in the Auckland region. But there are many other dormant volcanos here. In fact, Auckland is built on a volcanic field. From deities to elephants, cars to craters, here are some of the most interesting facts about Mount Eden Crater in New Zealand.
7 Interesting Facts about Mount Eden Crater, New Zealand
1. Auckland is built on a volcanic field
New Zealand’s largest city is Auckland and it is built on a volcanic field. There are some 50 volcanoes within 1,000 sq. km of the city.
2. The Auckland volcanoes are dormant
Each volcanic core stems from a separate eruption from a pool of magma that still lies beneath the city. Since it’s extremely unlikely that the magma will push through in the same place again, the volcanoes are dormant, despite their active underlying magma. Scientists estimate that there’s a 0.1 per cent chance of an eruption in any one year. The most recent volcanic eruption took place 600 years ago and formed Rangitoto Island.
3. Mount Eden is the largest Auckland volcano
North Head and Mount Victoria are two of the most famous volcanoes in the city. Mount Eden is the largest of the volcanoes in Auckland. At 196 metres (643 ft) above sea level, Mount Eden is also the highest natural point on the Auckland isthmus. The bowl-shaped crater is 50 metres (160 ft) deep. Mount Eden’s last eruption is thought to have been around 28,000 years ago. It spewed lava from three different cones to form the land upon which Auckland now sits.
4. A Māori deity lives in the crater
The mount’s name honours George Eden, who was the 1st Earl of Auckland. The Māori-language name for the volcano is Maungawhau which means ‘mountain of the whau tree’. Whau is a species of tree endemic to New Zealand. The crater’s name is Te Ipu-a-Mataaho, which means ‘the bowl of Mataaho’. Mataaho is a Māori deity that lives in the crater. Mataaho is a god of earthquakes and eruptions, and the guardian of the earth’s secrets.
5. Mount Eden is a car-free crater
You once could drive up to the summit of Mount Eden, however in 2011, officials banned tourists bus from driving on the crater and in 2016 all vehicles were banned from driving to the summit, with the exception of people with limited mobility.
6. A royal elephant marched up the volcano
In 1870, Sir Jung Bahadoor of Nepal gifted Prince Alfred, the son of Queen Victoria, a three-year-old Indian elephant named Tom. The Prince took Tom with him on his visit to Auckland and he put Tom to work dragging loads of basalt to the top of Mt Eden (Maungawhau) to help build the trig platform. The trig station is the geographical centre of Auckland’s urban area and officials used it as the reference point to draw up the city’s suburbs. The trig platform still serves as the highest natural point on Auckland’s isthmus, 196m above sea level. Tom the Elephant ended up in Dublin Zoo where he died in 1882. You can see his skeleton in the Zoological Museum at Trinity College Dublin.
7. You can hike up Mount Eden
You can hike up Mount Eden. It’ll only take you 15 minutes to reach the grassed-over crater at the top but the sprawling city views make it a pretty special spot. Refuel with a tasty minced beef pie from one of the bakeries back in Mount Eden village when you descend.
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