Although I’ve walked to the summit of Rangitoto Island many times the view makes the hike hugely rewarding with the incredible 360-degree vistas of the harbour and islands.
The short ferry ride is just 25 minutes from downtown Auckland. On a beautiful Auckland summers day, it seems every sailboat, motorboat and windsurfers are competing for space in the harbour. I guess that’s why Auckland is called the ‘City of Sails’. I take my hat off to the small sailing craft who don’t have the instant manoeuvrability to get out-of-the-way of other bigger vessels. Often the blast of a ship’s horn can be heard as frustrated captains try and manoeuvre their way into the harbour avoiding the recreational boaties.
Arriving at Rangitoto wharf there are a number of walks you can take. However, if walking is not your thing hop on a Volcanic Explorer Tour. They’ll tow you to the top in carriages pulled by a tractor.
The main track to the summit takes about an hour. It’s graded a moderate walk with an elevation of just over 200 metres. However, if you are feeling really energetic the coastal walk to the causeway, connecting Rangitoto Island to Motutapu Island is great. The terrain is very different on Motutapu from the volcanic rock of Rangitoto as much of it is still farmed. There are also some excellent swimming beaches with one campsite at Te Pehi O Manawatere.
Rangitoto is New Zealand’s newest volcano. It emerged from the sea about 600 years ago after a series of fiery volcanic explosions. Interesting it sits right next to the oldest island, Motutapu which is estimated to be more than 160 million years old.
Thanks to a large pest-eradication programme Rangitoto was declared pest-free in 2011. With the rats, ferrets and stoats gone native birds including the bellbird, New Zealand pigeon, fantail, grey warbler, whitehead, and New Zealand parakeet are thriving.
There are about 30 of the original classic baches (or holiday homes) left on the island. They are largely unchanged since the 1930s. As a result, they are considered irreplaceable artefacts of New Zealand and are of national significance. Bach 38, adjacent to the Rangitoto Wharf has been restored and turned into a museum. It is run by volunteers from the Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust and is open most weekends in the summer.
Getting to Rangitoto Island
The Fullers ferries operate from Queens Wharf in down-town Auckland, opposite Britomart train station. Buy a return ticket for $33. Make sure you are aware when the last ferry leaves Rangitoto as it’s a big swim home!
Alternatively, it’s a 2-hour kayak to the Rangitoto wharf from Devonport or Takapuna Beach. Have your wits about you as you cross the shipping lane!
Take food and drinking water. There is none available on the island, but you can buy supplies on the ferry. Also, good sturdy footwear will make the walk more enjoyable because of the loose scoria.