Ruapekapeka Pa Track
Easy access short walk
30 min return
1.5 km loop
The waharoa at the entrance to
Ruapekapeka Pa was the site of the final battle in the ‘War of the North’.
This loop track starts at the car park. The track takes you through the advanced British position down through the bush and up to Ruapekapeka Pa site.
View a track location map
The Ruapekapeka Pa Historic Reserve is reached by turning off SH 1 (signposted) about 1 km north of the Towai Hotel, 16 km south of Kawakawa. Follow Ruapekapeka Road.
No eating or drinking is permitted on the Pa site.
While in the area, you can also visit the Kawiti glow-worm caves at nearby Waiomio, which boast a galaxy of glow-worm lights, white limestone formations and 12 generations of history.
About the area
Historic places tell our stories. At Ruapekapeka Pa, the story is told of the last battle of the Northern Wars, fought between British colonial forces and northern Maori.
In the early 1840’s discontent grew over government policies that some saw as detrimental to local Maori interests. Symbolic protests gave way to outright conflict in 1845 and a series of battles were fought inland from Kororareka (Russell). Hone Heke and his uncle, the experienced chief Te Ruki Kawiti, spearheaded the resistance. Other Nga Puhi chiefs, led by Tamati Waka Nene, sided with the British.
Ruapekapeka may not have been the first pa to utilize trenches or to have strong palisades, but the combination of design innovations made it one of the most effective against assault by muskets and heavy artillery.
Widely recognized as one of the most significant historic sites in New Zealand, Ruapekapeka Pa has been given a new breath of life with an upgraded track, some core site interpretation and a new waharoa (entranceway). In December 2003, tangata whenua led a dawn dedication ceremony for the newly enriched pa site attended by the Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter. Seeing this nationally significant site come to life after a hundred years is important to Maori and for the nation as a whole.
Four interpretation panels provide information for visitors and the carved waharoa signifies a gateway to the sharing of stories from all sides of the battle, allowing people to enter the pa site in the right spirit, giving it the respect it deserves.
Plan and prepare
Help stop kauri dieback
Kauri dieback disease is killing our native kauri. It spreads by soil movement, but you can help prevent it.
- Stay on the track and off kauri roots.
- Clean your gear before and after visiting kauri forests.
Visit the kauri dieback website for more information on how you can help.
Track location map
Guides and commercial tourism providers