View of Puwheke from Karikari Beach
The Karikari Peninsula was a favoured area for seasonal hunting and gathering activities by pre-European Māori. Numerous midden are located in the adjacent fore dunes, showing a heavy reliance on marine resources for a long period of time with a focus on seasonal camping.
At the northern end of Karikari Beach, Puwheke sits high up on a prominent hill. Shaped similarly to an octopus head (puwheke = octopus), Puwheke was a central point of navigation and historical vantage point for Māori. There are three small pa sites on the headlands of the reserve, which are of significance to the iwi (tribe) Ngati Kahu.
This very scenic spot affords views across Doubtless Bay, Rangaunu Bay and further north toward the Parengarenga Harbour. The vegetation is mainly manuka shrubland, with a scattering of pohutukawa.