This weekend Michelle and I decided we would take the ferry over to Rangitoto Island. If you catch the 7:30 am ferry it cost $15/person, but after 7:30 am the ferry ride will run you $25. We caught the early ferry to save some coin and beat the crowds. There are no shops on the island, so make sure you take plenty of water and food, wear a good set of hiking boots-shoes and take a torch as well – ill get to that later. Our ride over was pretty quick, only about 20 mins and there were only 15 ppl on the ferry. Once we docked most people took the most direct trail to the summit, but we decided to take the long way around.
Taking a breather on the beach at Rangitoto Island
The first part of the hike was pretty easy, gravel/lava rock roads and it was fairly flat. I did wonder how they cleared the road – all the lava rock everywhere – hell of a job! We checked out some beaches a long the way and had a snack at one of them. After about an hour and a half of easy walking the trails started to get a little steeper and the grind had begun. It took us about 2.5 hours to get the summit and we only ran into one other set of hikers, which was great! Made us feel like we had the island to our selves. Once we got to the top of there were loads of other tourists who had taken the ride up and skipped the hike – lazy bastards! They have a tour you can purchase where they will drive you to the summit trail, which most people opted for.
The Lava fields of Rangitoto Island
We took in the view at the Summit Lookout, checked out the crater, walked the crater rim track, snapped a few pics and decided it was time to check out the lava caves. (This is why I recommend taking a torch ie flashlight.) We pulled out our torch and jumped into the lava caves. Some of them got tighter as we progressed deeper and deeper until we reached a point where you could go no further. The lava rocks are very sharp and you really must watch where you are stepping – if you are claustrophobic I wouldn’t recommend doing this part. It would be easy to twist your ankle or loose your balance and take a nasty spill! Some caves you could walk through like a tunnel. There was some vegetation growing through the lava rock – crazy! It was pretty amazing and its something ive never seen before. Definitely recommend checking it out.
Inside the Lava Caves
After exploring for a while, it was time for a good feed. We sat down and started munching on our lunches and then we noticed the time. The ferry returns every 2 hours and we decided that we wanted to catch the next one home – which left in about 45 mins. We were about a 45 min hike to the wharf, so we had to move. We only ate half our lunch, chugged some V and then started to book it. By this point we had been hiking about 3.5 hours and we were starting to get tired. You really had to watch where you were stepping, so rushing is not a good idea. We managed to get to the wharf in time to catch the ferry back. I’m glad we did, as the weather, which was about +20 and sunny up to that point started to change. The winds picked up and the temperature dropped – typical Auckland weather. I really didn’t want to have to wait another 2 hours for a ride back to Auckland.
Once we got back to Auckland we felt we deserved some beer, so we picked up a case and chilled for the afternoon at home. It was a great day trip and I would totally recommend it.
There is a second island you can check out – Motutapu Island. They have a bridge you can take across. originally we wanted to hit both islands but after hiking for 4 hours – that was enough. We will hopefully go back to check it out another day.
Ranitoto Island Info:
Rangitoto is just off of the Auckland coast and is a unique volcanic island that has a very unusual landscape of rugged lava crops, lush green bush and sandy beach coves. About 600 years ago the island erupted form the seas in a series of explosions. Rangitoto is home to NZ largest Pohutukawa forest – there are over 200 species of native plans including 40 species of ferns. Today there is no permanent population on the island. In the early 20th century there was a small community living in holiday houses – ie cottages scattered along the shoreline. In 1937 they prohibited any more building and it now considered a public reserve.
Rangitoto litteraly means “bloody sky” in Maori and is derived from the “phrase te rangi I totongia a tamatekapua” – “the day the blood of tamatekapua was shed”, a reference to an injury to a chief during a battle fought on the island.
Size 260 metres high and 5.5 km wide
Age: Formed 600 yrs ago (ca 1400 ad)
Volume Lava : about 2,300 million cubic metres
Motutapu Island Info
This island dates back to the Jurassic period and is one of the oldest islands in the Hauraki Gulf. The island is home to farmland, walking tracks, WWII gun emplacements and amazing views. It is currently undergoing a 50 yr conservation project. Unlike Rangitoto you can camp on this island – you just have to book ahead. This island mainly consists of farm lands and of course has a variety of plant species.
Motutapu was home to the Maori for many generations, until the eruption of Rangitoto.I look foward to checking this island out.