This is one of the lesser known walks on Rangitoto and is more uneven than the summit tracks. Boots or good walking shoes are needed. Your shoes will most likely bear the scars of this walk.
The start of the track is on the road to the summit from Islington Bay beyond the junction to Yankee Wharf and took us about an hour each way with children. The track itself is marked with occasional posts and cairns but is little smoother that the lava flows in places. At first it crosses several bare lava flows and clumps of kidney fern before dropping slightly into the bush before coming out on the coast. Several ships were towed to Wreck Bay and Boulder Bay and dumped after their most valuable fittings were removed. The remains of these are visible and best seen at low tide. Some of the Island's Baches are partly built out of the salvage from these vessels.
If you have a half day on Rangitoto, you must do the summit climb. It takes anywhere from 35 minutes (me) to an hour or more (most people) to get from the ferry terminal to the top. Once there, you will find benches on which to rest and eat your snack or lunch, and from where to admire the 360 degree views all around.
Fullers Ferries also operate a tractor 'train' ride to the summit, if you're unable to walk to summit or just too damn lazy. Ask at the Fullers Ferries office at the ferry quay for details.
There are a number of lava caves on Rangitoto, which you will come across during your walk (I think you will miss them entirely if you take the tractor-train). The caves are not deep - some are simply shallow caverns in the lava, while others are natural tunnels formed by the lava flows. The tunnels are very dark! I was only persuaded to continue through one in pitch darkness by the friendly encouragement of some other walkers who had established that after a bit there was in fact daylight at the other end. You do need to take care in the tunnels, because it would be so easy to twist an ankle on the rocky lava floors. However, they are fun to explore, so tread carefully and go for it!
The Hauraki Gulf has more than 1,500 sq. nautical miles of cruising and has been the perfect venue for the America's Cup yacht race.
There are many sheltered anchorages and deserted beaches around the numerous islands.
In the 1920's and 1930's, three 'bach' communities were developed on Rangitoto Island at Rangitoto Wharf, Islington Bay and Beacon End. The baches were comprised of private weekend or holiday cottages, bungalows, and boatsheds. Built by families during the Depression, the architecture of the baches shows how the people made do with what they had, and cobbled together comfortable and sometimes unique buildings out of both materials brought from the mainland and those found on the beaches.
In 1937, further building of holiday homes was prohibited on the island and most of the baches remaining today reflect the era in which they were originally built. A historical society is working on preserving the baches of Rangitoto for their architectural and social significance. Please respect the volunteer work that they are doing, and do not damage or take anything from the buildings on the island.
The island is fairly unique because its quite symmetrical in shape. It has become a local icon to Aucklanders. The Island is right at the entrance to the Waitemata Harbour . The distinctive shape can be seen all over Auckland.
The Crown purchased Rangitoto in 1854 and it was designated a public domain in 1890. During the 1920s and 1930s prisoners built the stone walls, handpacked roads and trails on the island. Some of the Bach sites which were built and leased to help pay for island developments. Are now preserved as historic buildings. During World War II there were extensive defence installations on the island which including a fire command post on the summit.
As you tour back down the island you will drive past bare lava fields, lava caves, pillars and tunnels and different types of lava flows which are remnants of the Islands volcanic activity.
Amazingly even with these seemingly barren areas, the island hosts over 200 species of native trees and flowering plants. There are more than 40 kinds of fern and several types of orchid – all seem to have adopted strange behaviours because of the unusual conditions
The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is considered to be one of the most biologically and geographically diverse marine parks in the world.
Rangitoto is just one of the 48 islands within the park which is administered by the Department of Conservation.
The tractor ride will drop you off at the bottom, 900 metres from the summit, and you will return there to catch your ride back down again.
There is a good hike via a boardwalk to the summit. There are handrails to assist you but if you’re not fit, its quite a climb.
When you arrive at Rangitoto you have the option of a grand tour around the island or do it yourself by either walking or eliminating the 1 hour hike to the summit and taking the islands tractor pulled road train (the Rangitoto Explorer) to the top which will take around 30 mins one way. This way you get to see some of the island both on the way up going one side, and coming down the other side. Beware though the ride is bumpy and noisy over a gravel road.
Once reaching the summit you will have 360 degree views of Auckland, the North Shore, Whangaparaoa Peninsula and the outer islands in the Gulf.
The cone of the crater is steep and 60 metres deep.
The island is covered in pohutukawa trees, which are regarded as the New Zealand Christmas tree. In fact the island's predominantly pohutukawa forest is the largest in the country.