The land is volcanic. Wind and rain sculpture the rugged peak of Moehau that rises steeply from the sea.
Stony Bay and Mt Moehau
At 892 m it is the highest point on the Coromandel Pennisula. Low cloud often caps the mountain and rain is never far away.
Cultural signficance and early history
For Maori, the mountain is sacred and the summit waahi tapu - the resting place of Tama-te-kapua, captain of the waka Te Arawa. In pre-European times coastal areas were heavily populated with large communities at Otautu bay, Waiaro and Port Charles.
Moehau Te Maunga has given its taonga (wealth) to people since the first human occupation. People have made the journey here for centuries, for the abundance of food and water as well as the climate. Holiday makers and permanent residents have joined them, relishing the simple yet remote lifestyle and the recreational opportunities available.
Te Moehau’s forests and streams are home to a variety of plants birds, insects, fish and animals. Over 260 species of native plants have been recorded here and it is the northern limit for a number of alpine plants. You may hear and see:
Pateke - brown teal
- grey warbler
- pied tit
- North Island brown kiwi
- shining cuckoo
- longtailed cuckoo
- pateke - brown teal
There have been frequent sightings of the red-crowned parakeet and the New Zealand falcon.
Archey’s frog and Hochstetter’s frog, the forest gecko, common gecko, pacific gecko and green gecko can all be found there.
Native fish such as short jawed kokopu, banded kokopu, inanga, long finned and short finned eels, koura, torrent fish and red finned bullies inhabit the streams. The Moehau stag beetle, is one of the more unusual species that inhabit the mountain.
A changing landscape
Settlers came, and brought introduced animals, forcing the natural environment to change. Many treasures have been lost through logging, farming, and the ravages of animal pests such as rats, possums, stoats and goats.
Moehau’s isolation and geography have worked both for and against it in the battle to overcome these new arrivals. Rugged, almost inaccessible terrain has made pest control uniquely challenging; at the same time isolation has made it an easier place to defend.
Logging followed by invasion of goats and cattle caused significant opening up of the Moehau forest providing easy access for smaller introduced pests. Goat control started in 1956. The Department of Conservation formed in 1987, and started possum control in 1988 and targeted rat control in 2005.
Access by cattle was dramatically reduced through improved fencing. Goats were successfully eradicated in 2007. Possum and rat control programmes are now well established.
Moehau is once again a safe haven to its many native animals and plants.