Rangitoto. It translates to red sky. Which is probably an accurate description of what local Maori people saw when Rangitoto erupted from the ocean just 600 years ago. New Zealands youngest island and youngest volcano, Rangitoto provides a extremely surreal day trip.
After only about 3 or 4 hours sleep, James and I hurried off to the ferry. Rangitoto is a nature park run by the DOC which means that there are not as many ferry runs as there would be if it was inhabited. The ferry journey took about 20 minutes to reach the island from the central business district of Auckland.
The island terrain was very strange for me as it was all strange, sharp black volcanic rock. I only wore my high tops, which were sufficient, but if I was carrying any weight on my back I would have definitely needed proper hiking shoes. James and I chose to do the island circuit first, with a side trip to boulder bay before hiking up the summit and visiting the lava caves.
The coastal circuit had slightly misrepresented itself as it was not really coastal at all, and most of the time we were walking through strange scrub/jungle with no views to the sea. I am still amazed at how those trees anchor themselves in that rocky soil, but somehow they manage.
There are loads of interesting birds on the island, and some of the species are doing quite well due to the DOC’s efforts to keep Rangitoto pest free. Rats are a huge problem in New Zealand as many of the birds nest on the ground making them very vulnerable to having their eggs made into a meal. We saw several fantails, and despite best efforts to take a picture, we mostly just have blurry jungle pictures. So you will have suffice with this image from google.
The boulder bay walk was the most exciting part of the hike for me. It led to a small bay where old ships were taken to be decommissioned. It is best to go here at low tide and you can see more of the wrecks. We had lunch here, in front of the skeleton of a ship from Dundee Scotland.
Since the island is basically a huge black rock, the temperature here is hotter than it is in Auckland. Also, there is no safe drinking water or sources of food on the island, so make sure you come prepared. We thought we had packed quite well, bringing three litres of water for the two of us on a half day walk, so we were shocked and surprised when we ran out of water about 3/4 of the way through the day. Running out of water on a hiking trip could be rather dangerous, but luckily this was only a day trip.
From the summit of Rangitoto you can see amazing views of Auckland and marvel at its ridiculous amount of sprawl. You can also see most of the Haruki gulf and even out to the coromandel peninsula. On the way down from the summit, we passed the lava caves. Some of the caves you can go all the way through and emerge at the other side. With some coaxing on the part of James, I did go through on of the caves, and didn’t even break a nail! (Obviously much more frightening than running out of water.)
We were having so much fun at the caves that we didn’t pay attention to the time, and ended up running the last segment of the track to catch the ferry, We luckily made it and were the last passengers to board.