The Battle of the Mountains - a story of great love

The Battle of the Mountains is a famous local Māori legend about four warrior mountains who stood for the heart of the North Island.

Tongariro is the Warrior Mountain of Ngāti Tūwharetoa situated at the heart of the Central Plateau in the North Island of Aotearoa. Tongariro has three peaks which include Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu. The battle of the mountains is an ancient telling of the deep love between Tongariro and Pihanga — the only female mountain in this area — and how suitors to her hand fought for her and eventually left this area.

A long, long time ago, before humanity existed, a battle raged between the mountains that once occupied this area. They fought for the hand of Pihanga. It was a vicious and merciless battle with no holds barred, everything was at stake, but also everything to gain — for love. The majestic Tongariro was severely wounded, almost to his death. After many days and nights, Tongariro emerged victorious. He had defeated the other mountains, winning the right to the hand of Pihanga forever. Tongariro warned the defeated mountains to leave his territory before sunrise, for that’s when they would freeze into position for the rest of time.

• Whakaari (White Island) made it out to sea in the Bay of Plenty.

• Putauaki (Edgecumbe) made it to Te Teko in the Bay of Plenty.

• Taranaki (Egmont) ran to the West Coast.

• Tauhara, who kept looking back at Pihanga, only made it to the other side of Lake Taupō.

Now Tongariro and Pihanga exist hand in hand, in love and bound together for all eternity.

The Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro people uphold guardianship of Tongariro and the Ngāti Turangitukua people maintain the same for Pihanga.