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Mangere mountain

Mangere mountain seen across the Manukau Harbour from Hillsborough
The southwest saddle can be seen at right

Seen from the east across the Otahuhu railyards
The hollow crater shape can be seen much more clearly from this direction

Mangere mountain was one of the earliest locations used by Hercules and Xena. The very first use of it was at the start of the second Herc tele-movie, Hercules and the lost Kingdom, where two messengers are pursued down the slope from the cone by a boulder sent by Hera. Later on, Mangere was the locale of the very first Xena appearance, in The Warrior Princess. Since then its remarkable topography has resulted in its appearance in a number of episodes through the seasons.

Names of geographical features are arbitrary

The typically steep volcanic slopes, and the complexity of the topography, mean that a remarkable number of scenes can be shot without repeating the background. Visitors to the place are usually amazed that so much 'scenery' exists in such a small area in the middle of an Auckland suburb.

Looking from the high point (the 340' mark) on the west rim
across the crater to the east. You can see how complex
the topography is.
Looking southeast from the same point.
The little central cone is directly in front of us; the much-used track
is marked by the line of trees half-way up the far slope.
And further to the right is the south-west saddle,
a low point in the crater rim where the track
crosses from the inside to the outside of the rim.

The mountain is one of Auckland's distinctive 'mini-volcanoes', small cinder cones a few hundred feet high, scattered throughout the Auckland urban area. Inside its main crater rim, Mangere has two small deep craters, and a small central cone, and several areas of flattish crater floor separated by small ridges. All this in an area not much over a quarter of a mile across, and surrounded by houses. But inside the crater, there's a feeling of remoteness; the outside world is shut out as if it doesn't exist, and the crater feels much larger than it really is.

Looking from the south rim across the central cone
towards the northeast crater. The track is below in the foreground
Looking through the south valley to the southwest saddle,
central cone sloping up on right.
The track runs across midway up the slope on the left
Note the distinctive tree on the skyline

The dry volcanic soil and short grass which dries out fast must make it much more pleasant for filming, and the steep slopes mean that ambushers can suddenly appear over a ridge without having to run dozens of yards to get in shot. It also makes distances look far greater than they really are, if a wide lens angle is used.

The main entrance to the 'reserve' is on the east, where a sealed road leads to a small car park by a rugby clubrooms. From there a grassy track curves up the inner slopes of the south rim to a saddle at the west side, then continues on round the outer side of the north rim to the site of a concrete reservoir at the highest point of the north rim. The track offers a natural route to explore the Xena locations.

Before we head up the track, though, take a moment to look northwest to the high point of the crater rim, covered in trees. There used to be a circular concrete water reservoir there, half-hidden in the trees, but now, (2006), someone has taken it away - it continues to exist only as a visual anachronism in the top corner of the frame in many Xena scenes. A steep ridge slopes down towards us to level off into the south rim of the north-east crater. This rim was the location of the attack on Hercules and Iolaus at the start of The Enforcer. The northeast crater is hiding behind the lower end of the ridge, and it was from midway up the slope above the crater that Herc and Iolaus approached the ambush on the ridge. It was also from here that Ikus and his father trekked right across the scenery towards the altar in Altared States. This crater rim was also where Ares attacked Michael and his deadly horsemen in Revelations, just before Michael broke the third tablet and released Pestilence.

The east ridge sloping up to the high point on the north rim
North-east crater hidden behind it on right
Herc, ambushed on the east ridge in The Enforcer
Northeast crater behind
Traversing the side of the northeast crater
in Altared States, seen from across the crater

To return to the track.... just 50 yards up from the gate is the spot where Xena first met Iolaus in The Warrior Princess. On the right, the main crater floor slopes gently down into a wide hollow. This is where Xena led Iolaus to attack the 'enemy' wagons in the same episode.

Iolaus meets the Warrior Princess by the track
And a pleasant but well-trodden track it is
Riding down to attack the wagons in the east hollow;
the east ridge rises behind

The same spot, but this time looking upslope back towards the track, was the scene of the battle with Najara at the start of Crusader. Looking west towards the south valley, this is the battle scene near the start of Revelations. And looking east, this is where Xena and Hercules fought each other for the privilege of getting killed rescuing Prometheus in the episode of that name.

Najara ready for battle
Looking up the slope to the track which runs
between the lines of trees in the middle distance
Looking west over the hollow where Najara fought (foreground)
and over the central cone to the southwest saddle

150 yards further along the track, but just below it, is where Xena faced Toxeus in Death in Chains - though careful examination of the trees behind each shows they were facing each other from 30 yards distance! And another 100 yards further up, just before the track curves right towards the saddle, is the place where Xena faced Hades on his first appearance in XWP. A few yards further up, on the slope just above the track, is the large tree Xena was seen standing beside in Altared States.

Xena faces Hades on the track
by the 300-yard mark in Death in Chains
On the hillside just above here is the tree
Xena stood beside in Altared States.
Looking down the track from the crater slope
just above the southwest saddle

A little further is the southwest saddle, a small flat area commanding a view back over the crater to the east, and over the Manukau Harbour and the sewage works to the west. There's a small pine tree here, near the inner rim, which has a distinctive profile with an outflung branch, visible in the background of many scenes. Under this tree was placed the altar in Altared States. The tree has since (2005) lost its most distinctive outflung branch, but all else remains unchanged.

The altar in Altared States with its very distinctive tree
Xena approaches the Cave of Hephaestus in Prometheus
through the south valley: southwest saddle and that tree behind
Looking northwards on the saddle; the altar and the large
rock are property of Renpics (they're not there now)

Looking south on the saddle, we get the view where Najara cantered her horse across the flat and down the slope into the little valley south of the central cone, at the start of Crusader.

Najara rides across the saddle with a
rare view of the outside world behind
... and down from the saddle ...

... into the south valley to find her men suffering
from an encounter with Xena and Gabrielle

The last use of Mangere was where it all started, back near the start of the track, where Alti ambushed Gabrielle in When Fates Collide. Xena appeared on the end of the south rim (first time that's ever been used), and rode down to attack Alti and become embroiled in a fight at the end of the South Valley.

Xena appears on the south rim of the crater
Xena fighting Caesar's men with the south valley behind
Caesar arrives from the direction of the East Ridge

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