Reflecting on a visit to One Tree Hill in New Zealand

One Tree Hill
A view of One Tree Hill in Auckland, New Zealand, in December 2018. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

I have spent a lot of time over the past 15 months reflecting and looking for answers. I have not yet found them.

I often look at photos or else I think about a place I visited recently. One Tree Hill in Auckland, New Zealand, is one place that has been top of mind as of late.

Maungakiekie, the name of One Tree Hill in the Māori language, is a place that holds a deep meaning for many in New Zealand. At the top of the hill is the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell. He believed the Māori people would die out and gave money for an obelisk dedicated to their memory.

Only, the Māori did not die. They survived.

I can’t say why I often think of One Tree Hill. To me, there is an inherent sadness attached to it. Perhaps, it is because of the obelisk and its original intent.

There is a beauty to One Tree Hill and the surrounding One Tree Hill Domain. It is the same beauty found around every turn in New Zealand.

There is peace, particularly on a calm December morning when few make it to the top of the hill. The world around seems so far away, even if just for a fleeting moment.

Travel has a way of giving perspective, if not total peace. If it can’t provide answers, perhaps it can offer context. Context about the world around us, how others perceive it.

On the morning, when my wife and I stepped out of our Auckland hotel to hail a cab to One Tree Hill, the doorman seemed happy we were heading to One Tree Hill. He began to tell us the story and the deep meaning behind the hill. I think he was glad for our curiosity to seek to understand and learn more about their country and the places that hold a special place in their hearts.

I often think of One Tree Hill. Every time I begin to ponder or ask questions, I close my eyes. I can vividly picture that December morning, climbing to the top of the hill and forgetting about the world just for a moment.

Travel is about searching. Answers come from the places we least expect. Even if we don’t find the definitive answer, a place can provide a moment of peace. Even if it’s just a memory.

For me, that is One Tree Hill.

“Oh great ocean / Oh great sea / Run to the ocean / Run to the sea.”

Avatar photo
About Todd DeFeo 1317 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is the owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and