17 January 2014

Going For A Walk: Coastal Track, Rangitoto Island {Or Really, A Small Dog In Your Handbag?}

If you're only going to go to one island in the Hauraki Gulf, you might want to pick Rangitoto. It is a volcanic island which last erupted around 600 years ago. You can hike up to top of the volcano and enjoy some incredible vistas of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf from the boardwalk on the summit. It is a very popular outing with tourists with regular ferry service from Auckland. While most people climb straight up to the top, there are a number of other nice walks on the island. One of my favorites is the coastal track from the Rangitoto Wharf to Islington Bay Wharf. (You can find a map of Rangitoto's walking tracks at the Fuller's ferry site.) The signs will tell you that it takes around 2 hours one way depending upon how quickly you walk and how many pictures you stop to take. We took a few and here they are.

If you go to Rangitoto, be sure to wear sensible shoes like sneakers or hiking boots. Jandals/flip-flops aren't really going to cut it when you're climbing up the side of a volcano and, for goodness sake, don't wear high heels. I've actually seen more than one person wearing cute little shoes with heels. Clearly they didn't read a guidebook or any information about the island before getting on the ferry. These girls always seem so surprised when they end up sliding on the scree and end up on their bums. They also seem to have way too much make-up on for tramping and often some sort of small dog hidden in their handbag.

This is what I'm talking about - hard to walk on with jandals/flip-flops. So wear the appropriate footwear. And put a sweater on, its cold outside. It's official - I am now channeling my mother.
Imagine pushing your baby in the stroller across the rocky path while wearing cute little strappy shoes. You have two choices - abandon the baby or abandon the stroller. This family made the right choice.
Not to worry - you don't have to walk across lava fields or scree the entire time. The path meanders through woods at times which makes a nice contrast.
Sorry, spoke too soon. Back to walking across scree.

Change of scenery again. This time it is mangroves.
If you didn't bring enough eggs for your breakfast burritos, you could try grabbing one from one of the traps set up around the island to keep the population of unwanted pests down.
Near to Rangitoto Wharf, you can see some of the old baches (holiday homes) on the island. They're trying to get rid of them and I think they're not renewing any of the leases once the current owner passes away. I think everyone is doing their best to make sure grandma and grandpa stay healthy so that the rest of the family can enjoy the bach for as long as possible. Getting rid of the historic baches is a bit of a contentious issue.
The views back to the Auckland skyline make you realize how close Rangitoto is to city center.

And finally the Rangitoto Wharf where the walk ends or starts depending upon which way you went.


  1. Hey! I'm thinking of visiting Rangitoto next Saturday and am hoping to go from Islington Bay Wharf to the lava caves and back. But I'll have exactly 3 hours to complete this, no more, before needing to get back on the boat. Is that reasonable? Are the times listed on the signs overestimates intended for people who aren't physically fit or might stop to take lots of photos, or are they applicable for a young person walking at a good clip?

    1. We've found that they do overestimate the times that they give, but 3 hours might be cutting it quite close. If you take the road up to the summit and then down to the lava caves and back the same way then you might be okay, but then again you might not be. The road isn't as nice as the coastal track, but that would take a lot more time. Is there any way you can spend more time on the island - there is a lot to see and it is incredible. I didn't think the ferry generally stopped at Izzy Bay - they usually go to Rangitoto Wharf or Home Bay on Motutapu - is it a special trip you're doing? Cheers - Ellen

    2. Really wish I could stay longer, but alas, no. I'm trying to make the most of a long layover -- I can leave the airport at 7:30 AM and I need to be back by 2:00 PM. Is there anything else you'd recommend doing in that time, that wouldn't cut things as close as visiting Rangitoto? Something unique to the local geology or otherwise outdoorsy would be great.

      There's construction on Rangitoto Wharf so all the ferries to the island are going in and out of Islington for the near future.

    3. Oh that makes sense now about Rangitoto Wharf. Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands are fantastic and so close to Auckland that it would be a shame if you didn't go there. Instead of going to the summit of Rangi, you could still do some exploring - maybe see a little of both islands? They're really different geologically so quite interesting to compare the two. You can read more about a walk I did on Motutapu here - http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.co.nz/2013/11/going-for-walk-motutapu-walkway.html.

      The other option is to check out some of the other volcanoes in the city centre like One Tree Hill or Mt. Eden. You can find out more about them here - http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/en/parksfacilities/walkingtracks/pages/coasttocoast.aspx

      Whatever you end up doing, I hope you have a great time! Shame you can't spend more time in NZ - an amazing country! Cheers - Ellen


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