Te Mata Peak

BY JULIAN THOMSON (GNS)
Accessibility: WHEELCHAIR ACCESS
Te Mata Peak. J.Thomson / GNS Science
A justifiably popular viewpoint with 360 views of the surrounding landscape, great walking and mountain biking tracks and interesting geology.
Limestone layers at Te Mata Peak. J.Thomson / GNS Science
The fossil rich limestone rocks that make up Te Mata Peak were laid down in the sea about 3.5 million years ago when the area was a fairly shallow submerged ridge. The limestone is made of alternating harder and softer layers that represent changes in sea level due to ice age cycles. At that time, the area that now forms the flat plains of Hawke's Bay to the west, was a channel of deeper water, and the coastline was then along the edge of what are now the Ruahine and Kaweka ranges about 40 km away.
The hills and plains we now see have been uplifted above sea level by tectonic plate collision, which continues to this day. The boundary of the Pacific Plate and the Australian Plate reaches the surface of the crust along the Hikurangi Trough about 120 km out to sea to the east.
Te Mata Peak. K.Bland / GNS Science
Many of the hills and ridges in this part of Hawke’s Bay are formed from limestone similar in character to the Awapapa Limestone here at Te Mata Peak. From the top of Te Mata Peak you can see hills to the south and east that are also made of Awapapa Limestone. The flat plains to the west consist of mudstones that were laid down in deeper water, overlain by more recent river deposits.
There is a map (topograph) showing the names and places that are visible from the summit on a clear day. It is worth having a good look at this and thinking about the relationship of the landscape to its geological history, and processes of uplift and erosion.
If you walk along the ridge just south of the summit, or along some of the walking tracks, you may be able to spot occasional fossils of oysters, scallops, barnacles, brachiopods and coral-like bryozoans. Some of these are broken up due to strong water currents during sedimentation in ice ages when sea levels were lowest.
Directions/Advisory

From Havelock North head east via Te Mata Road. After about 1km, turn right onto Simla Road, and then, after another 800m turn left onto Te Mata Peak Road. The summit car park is about 5km from here.

There are very high and steep cliffs below the summit view point. Keep behind the barriers. Some of the tracks in the area also traverse very steep ground and require care.

Accessibility: WHEELCHAIR

You can drive to the car park at the top of Te Mata Peak, or start from the car park lower down at the Te Mata Park gates where there is a map of several tracks for walkers or mountain bikers that lead to the summit. If you chose one of these options the accessibility becomes 'moderate'.

Features
Sedimentary Fossils Landform
Geological Age
Awapapa Limestone, about 3.5 million years old.
Zealandia Evolution Sequence
Māui Supergroup (Emergence): 25 – 5 million years ago
Links
There is some information explaining the Te Mata Peak rock strata here: http://juliansrockandiceblog.blogspot.co.nz/2011/08/te-mata-peak.html