Auckland, New Zealand & Rangitoto Island

Having survived a day at sea, partying into the wee hours of this morning, we arrived in Auckland around 08:00.

The indigenous Maori first called their home “Tmaki Makaurau, a maiden with a hundred lovers!  Nestled between two harbours, this fertile volcanic land must have been iresistable to the early European settlers.  With its cool, cosmopolitan vibe, New Zealand’s largest and fastest-growing city is as alluring as ever.  With the largest number of pleasure boats of any city in the world, it’s no wonder why leisure lovers flock to the “City of Sails”.

This lovely maiden indeed has much to offer . . . trendy cafes and bistros, world-class vineyards, a sophisticated arts scene and a friendly manner most people find refreshing.

Sylvia took a “duck tour” of the city.

My excursion for today was a walk to the top of a volcano on Rangitoto Island . . . about 800 steps!  Sitting majestically just off the coast of Auckland, this 5.5km wide volcanic island is an iconic landmark on the city skyline with its distinctive symmetrical cone rising 260m high over the Hauraki Gulf.

Rangitoto erupted from the sea in a series of dramatic explosions between 550 and 600 years ago in two episodes, 10 to 50 years apart and are thought to have lasted for several years.  This makes it the youngest island in the Hauraki Gulf and the last and largest volcano to be formed in the Auckland volcanic field.  Local Maori iwi (tribes) were present t the time of these eruptions and human footprints have been found between layers of volcanic ash on the adjoining Matutapu Island, where they were living.  This unique volcanic island boasts a fascinating landscape of rugged lava crops, lush native bush and sandy caves.  Rangitoto Island is a managed public reserve.

A BOTANICAL GEM

  • Famed worldwide as a botanical gem, Rangitoto is home to New Zealand’s largest Pohutukawa forest.
  • There are now more than200 species of native plants, including 40 species of fern.  Many of the plants are unusual hybrids and very rare.
  • Rangitoto and Matutapu are pest-free as the result of one of the most complex island pest eradication programs in the world.

THE ISLAND BACH

  • Today, Rangitoto has no permanent population, but in the early 20th century, there was a small community living in “baches” (simple holiday houses), scattered along the shoreline.
  • Further building was prohibited in 1937 and many of the original baches have disappeared over the decades, leaving just a few like I present in my gallery below.

Tomorrow . . . our last port-of-call . . . Bay of Islands, New Zealand.