The brochure says, “Sitting majestically just off the the Auckland coast, this unique volcano island boasts a fascinating landscape of rugged lava crops, lush native bush and sandy coves. Rangitoto Island erupted from the sea in a series of dramatic eruptions and explosions some 600 years ago. This makes it the youngest island in the Hauraki Gulf, and the last and largest volcano to be formed in the Auckland volcanic field.” Hey, I’m in . . . I booked the ferry trip and was excited to be exploring this island.
The trip was approximately 25 minutes from the historic ferry building in downtown Auckland, so it was a good opportunity to relax and reflect on the last few days, which were a whirlwind in my mind. Multiple flights, layovers, bad food, good food, disturbed sleep in cramped jet planes, dead to the world sleep in a very comfortable bed,and a few wonderful people along the way, most notably Paul and Gill Ashurst.
Due to the primary ferry docking not being available (rough surf close to shore), we docked at another secondary site that added another 45-60 minutes to the hike. In other words, I had approximately 2.5 hours to complete the hike to the summit or I would miss the next ferry back to downtown Auckland, as well as the connecting ferry to Birkhead, where I was staying.
OK, so this is where I provide full disclosure to you Colorado health nuts and 14ner disciples . . . The Rangitoto summit can’t be more than 300 meters. Nevertheless, there are no switch backs and getting to the base is essentially out in the open and the longest part of the hike. The surface is rough too – mostly slippery gravel, dirt, and lava rock. Frankly, with cloud cover, this hike is a piece of cake. However, the sun decided to come out as everyone began their journey. Couple that with the humidity, it was a bit rough for quite a few people. I’m not making fun of anyone, but I was surprised at how many people were old and out of shape. Especially affected were those who didn’t have a clue about what to wear, didn’t bring sunscreen, and/or any water. No one lives on the island and the water is not potable, nor is food sold there. I also was amazed at how many people were wearing flip flops, short sleeves, and no head cover.
The first part of the hike was uneventful, but as I said earlier, it was hot out and there was little tree cover. By the time I reached the base, I was a wet noodle, clothes soaked with sweat. I welcomed the tropical canopy that was provided during the ascent. So straight up I went, sans switch backs and it wasn’t too long before I reached the top. An old World War II surveillance building (which I was told had gun emplacements at one time) was the only structure at the top, besides a wooden fence that protected you from falling over the side.
The views were magnificent! Nothing blocked the 360 degree views of the Auckland city skyline, adjacent suburbs, and various islands in the harbor and beyond. I didn’t have too much time to relax, since the ferry was going to be back at 3:30 and it was getting a bit late. I ate some fruit and drank some water, then made my way back down the volcano.
I got back to the dock with about 15 minutes to spare before the ferry showed up. All in all, a great day. This hike was the perfect exercise I needed (and craved) to counter the 16-17 hours of having my ass strapped to an airline seat. 🙂