For 10 days in January 1846, 1600 British troops bombarded 500 Māori warriors hunkered down in a pā (fortress) composed of trenches, tunnels and wooden palisades on this lonely hillside. Ruapekapeka translates as 'the bat's nest' but by the time the British broke through, the bats had already flown, leaving them (not for the first time) with an empty pā. This stalemate was to be the final battle of the Northland War; following this the parties made peace.
Detailed information boards explain the battle and the layout of the fortress. A track heads from the car park through beautiful native bush to a carved gate leading up to the pā, where the trenches can easily be seen. At the top there's a memorial in the form of a pou (carved post).
Ruapekapeka is reached by a 5km unsealed road signposted from SH11, 15km south of Kawakawa.