Looking across the mouth of Te Toto Gorge and out to the Tasman Sea

Image: Gareth Nichols | Creative Commons

Introduction

The three natural coastal amphitheatres at Te Toto were once the site of extensive Maori gardens. Remnants of stone rows which would have outlined garden plots can still be seen in places, as well two small pa, storage pits and terraces.

Stonework.
Stonework

There is little recorded tradition about this area but the rather eroded state of the earthworks suggests it was occupied between about 1700 and 1800.

Maori gardening

When Polynesian ancestors of Maori settled in New Zealand they brought several plants with them such as kumara, yam and taro.  The climate they encountered here was vastly different to that of their tropical homeland and new techniques were developed to improve the yield of crops. 

Scenic views from Te Toto Gorge.
Scenic views from Te Toto Gorge

Such techniques included terracing; complex drainage systems; stone rows and mounds; and the modification of soil to improve warmth and fertility.  Many of these techniques have left archaeological remains that can still be seen today.

Te Toto Gorge viewing platform

At Te Toto Gorge car park, a viewing platform provides stunning views of the coastline and into the amphitheatre where the gardens once flourished.

Getting there

The site is located on the coast south of Raglan on Wainui Road. Note after Whale Bay is reached the road is called Whaanga Rd.


Related link

Maori sites

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