One Tree Hill is the name for a suburb, park, and single hill on the outskirts of the Auckland city center.
Though it is now a 118-acre park, there was a time in history when this 600 ft. peak was an important Maori settlement which was home to thousands of residents. The strategic location between Auckland’s two harbors provided easy access to the water, and the volcanic soil of this extinct caldera created a desirable spot for farming.
The land was sold in the 1840’s, however, and the surrounding area was slowly developed as Europeans populated Auckland. The lone tree which stood on the summit was chopped down in the 1850s, and subsequent trees were planted atop the hill to replace the one which was destroyed. A lone Monterey pine stood towards the summit until 1994, when a Maori activist took a chainsaw to the tree as it was seen as a symbol of foreign intrusion on sacred Maori land. Today, the only structure atop the hill is a towering obelisk which marks the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell, the early settler who chose the name for adjoining Cornwall Park.
The history of the hill aside, today the park is popular with visitors for the panorama it provides of the city. Visitors can either walk to the summit or drive up the road which leads towards the obelisk, and it’s a great place to get your bearings on Auckland area and for views of both coastlines and harbors.
While the summit perch is a great place for watching the sunset, those who drive up will need to leave quickly as the road is closed off at night.