Mount Eden (Maungawhau, the Mountain of the Whau Tree in Maori) is the name of a volcanic cone that rises 196m tall and it’s surrounding Auckland suburb. It is the highest volcano in Auckland and is only 5 km from the City’s downtown area. The last eruption was about 15,000 years ago, which left a 50-meter deep crater in its wake. It is possible to view this crater from the summit and experience 360-degree views of the entire cityscape.
- Duration: 1 hour to complete
- Distance: 2km
Vehicle access to the summit is at 250 Mt Eden Road.
We parked in the lower carpark, off Puhi Huia Road in one of two marked mobility parks. It was on a slight gradient so we had to use the power to back Finlay’s chair out. Having a confined space and minimal headroom for entry and exit it is safer for us to manually do this but not possible when parked on any sort of gradient.
Driving up to the Summit
If you have limited mobility it is possible to request the code on the day of your visit by calling the Auckland Council number 09 379 1340. This will enable you to drive up through the barrier gate. Alternatively, some tour buses can take you up. The regular buses will not have ramped access or kneel down capacity so you will have to be able to step up into them with a foldaway wheelchair.
Beginning the walk up!
We found the road a steady gradient going up with the occasional flat area. The power chair took it in its stride. In a manual chair, it would be good to have a power-assist attached otherwise a strong pusher with good calf muscles.
Onward and upward
Travelling up on a particularly hot day in the middle of summer does take its toll. Lot’s of water stops and encouragement was needed to egg the kids on. Finlay was particularly finding it hard going as he can feel the heat so much more. We looked out towards One Tree Hill, an earlier volcanic cone we’d conquered.
Just a bit further …
It was great to finally see the view of the Summit. There is always an element of expectancy when you imagine the panoramic views that hopefully rewards once you reach the top of any climb. Mt Eden Summit was no doubt one of those fabulous views.
For those who drive up with the vehicle access code you will find parking right at the top. This is also where the tour buses arrive and stop. You will find plenty of parking as it is limited to those with mobility needs or a tour.
If you don’t have your own transport you will find several transport providers (mainly mobility taxis) that will put together an Auckland sightseeing tour for you.
An Auckland Volcanic Cone tour will be a popular choice!
The Summit – Accessibility
On arrival the steep steps will first greet you. Thankfully to the left is one of the few curb cuts around which allows access to the pavement. This enables you to make your way along the side of the Summit a little way.
On arrival at the viewing platform we couldn’t help thinking how easy it would be to make it wheelchair accessible. We managed the gradual gradient of the grass bank to take in most of the views around. However, if muddy this could provide another barrier with our son’s power chair.
“If the bars were removed it would allow us to wheel onto the platform”
Thankfully, the weather was dry and the ground was firm. Finlay was able to enjoy the views along with his family on the grassy alternative.
The second barrier to the viewing platform could easily be solved with a simple concrete ramp to the side. This would also provide easier access for pushchairs too. We noticed a few young families up on the Summit that day.
The Summit Walk
Unfortunately the main Summit Walk is not accessible via wheelchair as it has steps to negotiate and a bit of a goat track around the summit.
Heading back down
We found this a rather scenic trip walking down. Instead of looking up we got to look down with incredible views of Auckland City as our backdrop.
However, many of the ideal viewing spots lacked curb cut’s to enable Finlay and his power chair to enjoy the views fully. There were several benches to rest upon with magnificent vistas, but they lacked that essential curb cut for the power chair to reach them. Again, simple fixes would make such a difference to the overall inclusive experience.
“I have to admit I felt a pang of sadness when our Finlay couldn’t join his brother and sister in places. However in saying that I loved that his faithful companion dog never left his side”
Alternative Summit Access Point
After walking down we noticed this shorter alternative route up to the Summit from the other end of Puhi Huia Road. Located next door to the entrance was a carpark with a mobility park along with a line of port-a-loo toilets. It wasn’t accessible to vehicles but of course possible with a power chair or a bit of power assist on a manual. We didn’t check this route out so unsure to the amount of assistance needed for the gradient.
Ice-cream time at the finish line!
We made it and luckily bumped into someone who pointed to a hidden ice-cream shop. The kids were delighted. Yet again Finlay had to wait at the bottom of steps while we chose his ice-cream for him. He made sure he let us know how he felt and that we got the right flavour.