Rangitoto is a volcanic island just 25 minutes by boat from Auckland City. It is also the youngest and largest volcano in the Auckland Region. If you read about our Coast to Coast walk, you may recall the view of Rangitoto from Mt. Eden. It’s a quick ferry ride, and I even had a 10% off return fare from an Auckland flyer. Win! Andrew’s co-workers and friends Rose, Arturo and Kerrie joined us on our excursion.

From the ferry we clamored on up to the summit of the volcano. The path is fairly steep at times, but all in all takes only an hour or so. We took a small detour from the path and headed towards the lava caves, or more accurately, lava tubes. Lava tubes are formed when low-viscosity molten lava known as pahoehoe flows and cools on the outside due to contact with the ground and air, to form a hard crust allowing the still-liquid molten lava to continue to flow through inside. (wikipedia) Kind of scary if you think too hard about it.

The island was formed during an eruption 550-600 years ago. Moari were living on Motutapu island just next door and they have verbal history detailing the eruption and even found some footprints in the volcanic rock on the adjoining island. It is very likely that another volcanic eruption in the Auckland volcanic field will erupt at some point in the future, though likely (and hopefully) not for several hundred or thousand years.

All over the island we saw traps for pests. After the Maori and Europeans settled there and started to build, they brought all sorts of mammals and larger lizards (rats, skinks) which scared off and ate many of the native birds on the island. The New Zealand Department of Conservation has all but eradicated most pests and many native species are returning to the island.

After reaching the summit and walking around the crater rim at the top of the volcano we meandered down a road for an hour or so to McKenzie Bay to eat lunch and take a break. Afterwards, we walked backed to the wharf, another hour and a half. Lots of walking in one day! On the way back, near the wharf we saw a bunch of small houses, or vacation homes (baches, pronounced batches). The baches were built by the Europeans in the 20’s and in the 30’s the state fought the legality of building them on the island and tore down most of them. Only a handful remain and are used today. There were also some concrete buildings scattered over the island. During WWII, US troops were housed on the island to defend the harbour and mines were also stored here.

Click on through the many photos I took to catch a glimpse of out adventure!