Mauna Kea Adz Quarry


Quarries scattered over 7.5 sq miles produced tons of exceptionally dense and fine-grained basalt (dubbed Hawaiʻiite) used to make a tool similar to an ax called an adz. The scale of the operation is difficult to appreciate until you're standing next to one of the enormous piles of leftover chippings. The site is on the Mauna Kea Summit Trail, 1 mile and 650ft below its intersection with the Lake Waiʻau trail. It's a registered National Historic Landmark and considered a sacred place.

Hawaiian workers would live on site in caves and shelters between July and October, chipping away at the brutally hard stone creating high quality tools.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Maunakea attractions

1. Very Long Baseline Array

0.78 MILES

One of 10 identical radio receivers that span 5351 miles from Mauna Kea to St Croix, US Virgin Islands. The $85 million project went online in 1993 and…

2. Lake Waiʻau

0.95 MILES

On an island with a conspicuous dearth of surface water, tiny Lake Waiʻau's existence on a porous lava mountain is something of an enigma. Hawaiian…

3. Puʻu Wekiu


Hawaiian cultural practitioners ask that visitors respect the sacred true summit of Mauna Kea and not hike the trail to the top of the cinder cone (13…

4. Apollo Valley

1.42 MILES

Just past Mile 4 on the east side of the summit road, a washed-out valley full of grayish glacial till and rocks is a dead ringer for the surface of the…

6. United Kingdom Infrared Telescope

1.53 MILES

Even though this 3.8m (12.5ft) telescope is the second-largest dedicated infrared telescope in the world, it will soon be decommissioned according to the…

7. University of Hawaiʻi 2.2m Telescope

1.57 MILES

UH2.2 (if you go metric, UH88 if you prefer inches) was a pioneer of Mauna Kea. As the first large telescope on the mountain (1970), its great imagery…