My day trip to Rangitoto Island in the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland began when we arrived and set foot at Rangitoto Wharf. As we got off the ferry, we were promptly reminded by the staff to keep watch of the time to ensure that we do not miss the last ferry back to the city or risk being stranded on the deserted island. 😛 A clock on the wharf will indicate the last ferry departure each day.
Types of Rangitoto Bush Walks
As mentioned earlier in my previous blog post, there are several Rangitoto walks with varying levels of distances and difficulties to choose from:
- Summit Track (3.1 Kilometres – Moderate – 1 hour one way from Rangitoto Wharf)
This is the shortest and most popular walking track to the summit. The track goes through lava fields and forests all the way to the summit lookout.
- Lava Caves Track (700 Metres – Easy – 30 minutes loop from Summit Track)
This track is a short diversion from the Summit Track. The track takes visitors to narrow caves and tunnels formed by flowing lava. A torch is needed for this track.
- Wilson’s Park Track (1.5 Kilometres – Moderate – 1 hour 40 minutes from Rangitoto Wharf to the summit, 40 minutes from Summit Track turn off to summit)
This walking track is an alternative route. The track branches off the Summit Track before the Lava Caves Track turnoff).
- Coastal Track (4.5 Kilometres – Moderate – 2 hours 30 minutes one way from Rangitoto Wharf)
The Coastal Track runs from Rangitoto Wharf to Islington Bay Wharf and passes many of the old boatsheds, baches and ruins of World War II storage areas. This is a popular walk for swimmers and those looking to picnic for lunch.
- Kowhai Grove (45 minutes round-trip)
This track branches off from the Summit Track and takes visitors through a cool bushy glen of the rare Kidney Fern.
- Flax Point & Historic Baches (1 hour)
This is a coastal walk to a black-back gull colony (the largest colony in New Zealand) located at Flax Point. The birds’ breeding season is from October to late January. A shorter walk of about 15 minutes takes visitors past some old historic baches.
A Scenic Walk over Rugged Lava Fields, Lush Native Bush & Sandy Coves
What started out supposedly to be the shortest walk to the summit of Rangitoto Island became an entire day’s event to remember. We began by following the main track to the summit/Summit Lookout. Somehow, we unintentionally detoured from the main track and walked on the coastal road that took us to Flax Point located near the site of the black-back gull colony. And, since the breeding season is from October to late January, there were no gulls in sight.
We passed by what seems to be a picturesque lagoon and walked over large areas of lava/scoria fields. Some mangroves were spotted along the coast and in certain areas, it was littered with seashells and fragments of dead corals. It was an interesting sight! The view of Auckland city skyline from Rangitoto Island was impressive. We also caught a glimpse of McKenzie Bay and Beacon Lighthouse.
As we carried on with our journey to the summit, we strolled through a dense forest of Pohutukawa and Northern Rata trees. To be honest, it left like we were walking through an enchanted forest! The towering trees provide shade from the blistering sun and we never felt more relieved. 🙂
An Educational Boardwalk
Next, we found ourselves walking on the boardwalk towards the Summit Lookout. It was a scenic 20 minutes walk through the volcanic island’s lava/scoria fields and native bush. The best part of the board walk is there are several platforms with information boards telling visitors the history as well as the geology of Rangitoto Island.
Through that, our knowledge of volcanoes, volcanic islands and Earth’s unique geology was vastly expanded. 😀 There are also little markers informing visitors of the flora and fauna available in the area.
Crater Rim Track, Lava Caves & an Exhausting Climb to the Summit
To get to the Summit Lookout, we had to climb a set of stairs and follow the marked path to the summit. Good news is there are several platforms with wooden seats for visitors to take a break and enjoy the breathtaking view of Auckland city and the neighbouring Motutapu Island.
After what seems to be a never-ending climb up the stairs and several short breaks, we finally arrived at the Summit Lookout. We took the time to enjoy our packed lunch at the summit of Rangitoto Island before making our way down. We also checked out the Crater Rim Track which is basically a 15 minute walk circling Rangitoto’s large crater at the summit.
From the Crater Lookout, we could see the entire size of the dormant crater now teeming with undergrowth. Unfortunately, due to time constraint and fatigue, we had to miss the Lava Caves and Motutapu Island. 🙁
In a Nutshell
We spent almost an entire day at Rangitoto Island in the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland. Due to the challenging nature of the walks and our poor stamina, we took more time than expected to explore just a handful area of the huge volcanic island.
Nonetheless, we were happy to have made it all the way to the top and enjoyed the breathtaking views. Given the chance, we would definitely visit Rangitoto Island again and catch up on the parts that we missed.
Up next: A visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum a.k.a Auckland Museum