Mount Ngongotaha is a volcanic dome located 757 metres above sea level. Rotorua city can be viewed from this scenic reserve. Mount Ngongotaha is an iconic peak for Ngāti Whakaue (Maori tribes), who believe it was once home to patupaiarehe (fairies), whose voices and flutes can be heard on the foot of the mountain on some days.
Located just on the outskirts of Rotorua, this scenic reserve is known for its walking tracks and views. These walking tracks start from the Paradise Valley road. According to the Maori tribes, the fairies provided Ihenga (grandson of the great Pacific explorer Tamatekapu) with a calabash of water to quench his thirst. Ihenga later combined the words ngongo (to drink) and taha (a calabash), giving rise to the name Ngongotaha.
Like many of the northern Rata, this tree is the tallest in the surrounding forest. It is nearly 40 metres in height and the trunk has a diameter of about 1.8 metres. The flowers of this tree are dark red in colour that grows on the tips of the branches. Flowering usually takes place during December or January. This tree is considered very special as the people who used to live in old Rotorua remember when these red flowers of Rata provided a beautiful display on the lower slopes of the mountain. This is the only tree known which is surviving mature rata on Mount Ngongotaha.
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