Papamoa Hills Regional Park was New Zealand’s first regional park opened outside of wellington and Auckland, the attraction is the seven historic pa sites that dot the hills. Known as Te Rae o Papamoa to the Maori translated to ‘the forehead of the woman who is the hills’ with the peak of the hills reaching 224 metres above sea level offering good views in all directions making this area strategically important to the local tribes, making it possible to control the south-eastern access to Tauranga Moana and the coastal strip down to Maketu.
Karangaumu Pa, at the summit of the hills, was a defensive pa. "In times of attack and battles when it used to be heavily occupied and there'd be over 2000 warriors here." One of the other pas, Patangata (towards the ocean from the summit), was where the women and children would head in times of battle.
With the Western Bay of Plenty being a food basket, Maori settlement began in Papamoa around the 1400s, where for the next 300 years the people prospered, harvesting their crops and fisheries, occupying and abandoning sites in accordance with the kumara cycle and soil fertility.
Today Papamoa Hills has over 80,000 visitors every year with the walking track passing through pine forest up to the open ridge.