Last Thursday, feeling sufficiently settled in Auckland, we ventured out and took the ferry to Rangitoto Island. It takes less than 30 minutes to get there—the island is a visible presence from most parts of the city. It’s also one of the youngest volcanoes in the area, having sprouted only 600 years ago.
From a distance Rangitoto looks lava-black. I was expecting something like Death Valley or Mars, given how new the island is. I was wrong—it’s surprisingly lush. From the moment we stepped off the ferry, the tree cover (predominantly ferns and mangroves) was impressive. Plants have taken hold in a major way, especially in the last few hundred years, as some drawings of the crater from 1800s show it completely bare of vegetation.
An aside for my readers from the US: Kiwis (the people, not the birds) use the word “track” for “trail” and the verb “to tramp” for “to hike”. For accuracy of nomenclature, I’ll use the New Zealand variants where appropriate.
We immediately headed up the summit track, a nice path cut through the forest and fields of lava. It took a little over an hour to get to the top, just beyond the 60 meter deep and 200 meter wide crater. After devouring our ham sandwiches, we walked around the rim, and then down the boardwalk to Summit Road, where we got great views of the neighboring Motutapu Island.
The last ferry from the island left at 3:30pm (we arrived at 11am) so we took Islington Bay Road back to the wharf rather than go all the way to the eastern edge of the island and around the coastal track. We had some time to spare when we got back, so we explored the maze-like paths through Kidney Fern Glen and Kowhai Glen, before sitting down to enjoy the apples we’d brought with us.