Mount Cargill , Dunedin Overview

Mount Cargill, also known as Kapukataumahaka, can be seen looming over the northern part of the city of Dunedin, making for most of its skyline. It stands tall at a height of 676 meters, which is around 2,218 feet, and lies 15 kilometers, which is nine miles, from the city centre.

The mountain is surrounded by other smaller peaks, like Mount Zion, Mount Holmes and Buttar’s Peak, that are also frequented by the tourists who visit Mount Cargill. Visitors must carry warm clothing because of the mostly low temperatures and unpredictable weather in the region.

Apart from the Flagstaff peak, Mount Cargill is known to be one of the highest peaks surrounding the city of Dunedin, and offers one of the most stunning, panoramic views of the city at its foot, including both the urban centre and the countryside of the region. Visitors can also enjoy views of most of the Otago coastline, especially the Otago Harbour and the Otago Peninsula. Mount Cargill is also famous for being the youngest part of the now extinct Dunedin Volcano, which was formed around 16 to 10 million years ago.

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Walking Tracks

Mount Cargill Walking Track- Tourists can walk or tramp up the Mount Cargill Walking Track which stretches for around 2.4 kilometers and can be covered in about three to four hours at a leisurely pace. Mountain bikes are permitted only at the lower part of the track, and even dogs can be brought along for a walk up the path.
  • The track starts from Bethunes Valley and goes through pine forests lined with native bushes and trees like the Hall’s Totara and Rimu species along the track.
  • On reaching the alpine region, the surroundings switch to a more grassland like area with flora like Manuka, Coprosma, Flax, Veronica, Dracophyllum, Ozothamnus, etc.
  • Birds like Tui, Bellbirds, Wood Pigeons, etc. can be seen in the treetops.
  • The track finally leads up to the top of Mount Cargill, which offers stunning views of the Dunedin city. 

Organ Pipes rock formation- There is a side-track from the main path which leads to the Organ Pipes rock formation in not more than half an hour. The Organ Pipes were formed due to the cooling lava which flowed across Mount Cargill during the last volcanic activity that was experienced by the Dunedin region. The hot rocks underwent various expansions and contractions because of the cooling lava which led to the formation of rock columns in a hexagonal shape.


Mount Cargill is known amongst the locals for its symbolism and the Maori legend that is attached to the peak. The summit was named after Captain William Cargill, who was famous for being the leader of the Province of Otago in the earlier days, but it was known as Kopuka-tau-mohoka within the Maori community.

The Maori legend says that Mount Cargill and the two peaks adjacent to it are representative of the petrified head, body and the feet of an Otakou tribe princess, wherein Buttar’s Peak is seen as the head and Mount Cargill as the body, forming a reclining figure.

How To Reach Mount Cargill

  • Visitors can bring their private vehicles or rent them from Dunedin, and then reach the summit via Pine Hill Road which ends at a rough road that leads to Mount Cargill, or visitors can also choose to reach the location directly via Cowan Road.
  • The peak is also known for its walking tracks, which can be reached by travelling along North Road which leads to Normandy and then turn into Norwood Street, from where a signed entrance to Bethune’s Gully can be seen by continuing a little further down the road.
  • Buses and parking spaces are available around the area.

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