There’s another world lurking just a 25-minute cruise off
Auckland’s coast. The shallow volcanic cone of Rangitoto Island is central to almost every waterfront view and yet
its craggy black shoreline is rarely visited by most Aucklanders. No one lives
there, there are no cafés or shops and there is nowhere to stay, unless you
know someone who owns one of the few dozen ramshackle baches (holiday homes) which line the southern shore.
The island erupted out of the Hauraki Gulf just 700 years
ago making it the newest (and at 260m or 853ft, the highest) of the Auckland
Volcanic Field summits. Large patches are just barren lava, but one dominant
species has taken hold – the native pohutukawa tree, which bloom bright red in mid-December.
Come for the day, explore the waterfront baches, delve into
Kidney Fern Grove where these delicate ferns unfurl after rain and hike to the
summit with its 360-degree city and harbour views (2hr round-trip) taking in
the lava tubes, volcanically formed caves just over half way to the summit
(bring a torch).
Alternatively, ride up on Fullers’ Volcanic Explorer Tour, a
kind of train of golf carts which makes its way to within cooee of the summit.
You’ll need food, plenty of water and weather protection.
The relentless sun has baked more than a few unprepared summer visitors.