In anticipation for trekking the Mont Blanc region in June and traversing numerous steep valleys across France, Italy and Switzerland, I recently embarked (with my dear sister, Anne) on another half marathon, as fear is the only way I can discipline myself!
I choose this great sporting even for obvious reasons … the Motutapu-Rangitoto Traverse takes you the length and breadth of both islands, on sometimes difficult terrain. The islands are joined by a causeway so there was no swimming involved on my part, however, the event has grown over the years and now has seven options for walkers, runners, tri-athletes and mountain bikers. This year was the first time mountain bikers have been allowed by DOC to ride on the islands.
For those of you not familiar with the location, Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands are in the Hauraki Gulf, about 20 minutes from downtown Auckland. Arriving via Fullers ferry, we pulled into the jetty at Home Bay on Motutapu Island and were greeted by a party like atmosphere with marquees, music and festivities.
Awaiting our course briefing, we learnt both islands are pest free sanctuaries and work is underway to restore the natural bush and bird life on Motutapu Island. Motutapu’s restoration project plans to replant large sections of the island in native trees over the next 20 -30 years. It is the largest ecological restoration conservation endeavour in New Zealand.
As it happens, the Motutapu Restoration Trust were looking for ways to get more people out to the island and raise funds for their ongoing work and this sporting event does just that. It gets people to the island who will hopefully come back as volunteers and for each event registration, one New Zealand native tree wil be planted on Motutapu.
As we started our 21 km walk we crossed the causeway onto Rangitoto and the terrain of the two islands couldn’t be more different. Rangitoto is a volcano and the vegetation is scarce in many parts as the lumpy, free-flowing, scoria dominates the landscape. On the other hand, the vast majority of Motutapu is open pasture farm land with around 3500 sheep and 1000 beef cattle. The diversity of the landscape makes for an interesting event though native bush, farmland, coastal tracks and much more.
We made it.
As one of the event organisers put it, ‘You won’t beat your personal best as the terrain is difficult,’ and he wasn’t wrong, but what a wonderful way to discover two magnificent islands in Auckland’s stunning Hauraki Gulf.