Rangitoto Island – A Volcanic Day Trip
In the wake of a most unusual year seeing overseas escapes upended indefinitely, this summer’s hottest getaways are now a lot closer to home. As far as significant landmarks go, playing tourist amid Auckland city’s skyline, it doesn’t get more iconic than the symmetrical majesty of the Rangitoto Island possessing one of the best vista points in Auckland.
Rising 260 metres over the Hauraki Gulf, the youngest island in the gulf at a mere 600 years, is a “must do” day excursion centering around the most popular walk on Rangitoto, the Summit Track – a gentle incline taking approximately one hour at an easy pace, which begins at the Rangitoto Wharf and weaves through lava fields and lush native flora to the summit. The perfect place to enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf islands across to Auckland. Lookouts along the way offer stunning views and the informative displays positioned along the track cover the island’s past volcanic history, as well as significant human activity including the creation of the Summit Track and island roads by prison labourers between 1925 and 1936.
Allow additional time on the way back to visit the historic bach community near the wharf or use torches to explore the rugged lava caves and twisting tunnel nestled 200 metres from the summit on the Eastern flank of the island, the detour adding around 45 minutes to your return journey. Its geological features are characterised by distinctive lava tubes left in the wake of the passage of liquid lava.
It is also worthwhile to allow extra time still to visit the Rangitoto’s Wreck Bay – a shipwrecks’ graveyard for unwanted vessels holding at least 13 obsolete ships that were abandoned there between 1887 and 1947. To drive them ashore to deteriorate was, at the time, deemed the best way to dispose of the “Rangitoto hulks” part of the wreckage of which remain visible today at low tide. To visit this heritage site, follow Islington Bay Road over lava fields to the Boulder Bay Track, which is approximately one hour, one way. Other tracks that follow the coastline are sign-posted from the wharf, which vary in length and difficulty, all trips requiring some planning in advance to leave enough time to return to the ferry wharf. Rangitoto is also connected to the much older Motutapu Island by a causeway, so it’s possible to walk between the two.
Be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks and lunch as there are no food outlets on the island, don good walking shoes, sunblock and a sun hat, and bring a light rain jacket and warm layers as the temperatures can vary quickly.
You can reach this heritage jewel of Auckland City’s landscape – the last and largest volcano to be formed in the Auckland volcanic field – by the Fullers360 Rangitoto Island Ferry, being just a 25-minute trip from the downtown ferry terminal, which for convenience, also offers some sailings that travel via Devonport. An adult ticket costs $39, a child aged 5 to 15 years is $19.50 or a family of 2 adults and 2 children is $105. Tickets as well as gift vouchers can be purchased in advance online with the bonus of accessing discounted online rates and skipping the on-wharf ticket queue. For further pricing information, visit fullers.co.nz.