Maungatautari is a 797 metre high, 1.8 million year old volcanic mountain immediately to the southeast of Cambridge. It is now known as Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and has a 47 km long predator-proof fence around the entire peak, at about 400 metres. This protects 3,400 hectares of native forest.
The maunga was first recognised as a reserve in 1912. In 2001, the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust (MEIT) was formed by the local community, landowners, and iwi. The goal is to eliminate all pests and predators on Maungatautari, thereby restoring the ecosystem to pre-human conditions.
There are two options for entering Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari; from the north side on Hicks Road, off Maungatautari road, or from the south on Tari Road off Arapuni Road. There is a small fee to access the south side via the reception centre, but access is free on the north side.
From the north, drive to the marae on Hicks Road where there is parking. The track initially crosses a very pretty section of farmland (1.5 kms), with great views. But it will be muddy when wet. You will come to a double door in the predator-proof fence around the maunga which provides access to a 30 minute loop track through the forest. Alternatively, you can walk all the way to the peak (Pukeatua) on Te Raki, a tougher tramping track, and then on to the south side entrance (5 to 6 hours).