Located in the Waikato region
The reserve is located south of Hamilton between Otorohanga and Te Awamutu off SH3. It is 13 km south west of Te Awamutu.
As Kakepuku Mountain emerges from the landscape it is easy to understand how it got its name. According to several accounts the full name of the mountain is ‘Kakepuku-te-aroaro o Kahu’ or the swollen stomach of Kahu. It was so named some six centuries ago by Rakataura, a tohunga of the Tainui canoe. The name referred to the advanced pregnancy of his wife Kahurere (referred to in some accounts as Kahukeke).
An old volcanic cone, Kakepuku features prominently in Waikato history pre Colonial settlement. Tainui settlement in the Kakepuku area began about 1550AD, although there were probably earlier people’s present - notably Ngati Kahupungapunga. Various Tainui hapu have occupied the mountain or its surrounds to the present.
Two pa sites lie within the reserve, and there are two more on adjacent Waipa District Council land. A Maori relationship with the mountain is well established in legend and mythology.
These pa sites are found under forest canopy or regenerating bush so it is necessary to walk around them to appreciate their extent and features.
A track passes through a fine remnant of original forest in the ancient crater and emerges at the summit itself, where magnificent views of the surrounding Waipa-Waikato landscape reward your efforts.
From 15 December 2021 eligible people must be fully vaccinated to use DOC accommodation.