The more I was reading about Rangitoto Island, the more intrigued I was. Rangitoto is the youngest volcanic island in the Auckland region. Its name means Bloody Sky in Maori. The beaches are made of black volcanic sand. The island hosts the biggest Pohutakawa forest in the world. No one lives on the island, except the birds. It was declared “Predator Free” indeed in 2011 as to encourage endemic species of birds to proliferate.
And it only takes a 20 minutes ferry ride from Auckland to get there. So, let’s go!
On Rangitoto Island, there are no shops, no water source, barely a few dry toilets. If you’re planning on coming here for a daytrip, you’d better be prepared. Bring your own sandwich, your water bottle (and tea thermos if you’re a granny-like tea lover like me) and a “all type of weather” equipment, because it seems like the weather changes quite quickly in New Zealand.
For the record, there was a big crazy sunshine, then a freezing rain in less than an hour on that day, so I was quite relieved I had brought my sunglasses, some sunscreen, my rain jacket and my gloves in my backpack on that day (and that would now become my New Zealand number one rule: always be prepared for any kind of weather while going on a day trip in New Zealand. You really never know.)
That’s my very first trip alone in nature as a Novice Adventurer. Meaning, as though I survived being lost on my first night in Japan, opening my bank account and getting my IRD number here in New Zealand, and almost missing my ferry on Waiheke Island, I haven’t really been hiking around yet, at least never on my own -and that’s exactly why I’m here for. I’ve never been much of a hiker – try it as a big smoker, it’s only painful on your lungs, and I’m so slow and out of breath when it comes to climbing up.
But here I am, smoke-free for about a week and a half, excited to try on a new way of living which includes walking, hiking, getting lost and breathing the beautiful nature of New Zealand.
So, Novice Adventurer I am, planning on going all around the island, starting from the West Coast, as it was recommended from a fellow traveller at the Verandahs Backpacker Hostel, so I could have a look at the Mackenzie Bay beach.
- From the harbour to the beach: 1:30 walking.
- From the beach to volcano summit: 1:20.
- All around the volcano crater: 20 minutes.
- From the summit to the lava caves: 35 minutes.
- From the summit back to the harbour: 1 hour.
All in all, that’s more than 4 hours walking around the island. And time matters on Rangitoto Island as the last ferry leaves at 4
I set foot on the island around 10 AM, I have more time than needed, right?
As I’m leaving the harbour, I encounter some nice little houses, called “baches”. Those are historical holiday houses built in the
I felt like I could finally tame this solitude, that I could be quite a good travel companion for myself, really.
Just before Mackenzie Bay, there’s a succession of tiny isolated beaches. The place is well suited for a tea-break! Silence is gold, and sun is shining, and I feel so serene. I reach Mackenzie Bay just when the touristic coach is leaving, what a perfect timing! Meeting a crowd is really the least that I need right now. I remove my shoes, shove my feet in the black sand, and rush towards the water. The water is really cool, but not as cold as it was on Waiheke Island. I play in the water, eat my sandwich, take some pictures.
There’s an old man sitting not far from me with his lunch as well and we greet each other with a smile. I’d learn it soon enough while hiking in New-Zealand (and in many other countries): when you cross someone’s path, you greet each other, you smile to each other, you can even talk to each other and make new friends that way. I haven’t met such Care Bears people since my stay in Canada.
I can’t stop playing in the water, trying to take some pictures of myself thanks to some rocks and my camera’s timer (my best friend Cynthia would be so proud of me trying to get some selfies out of this adventure), that I’m almost forgetting the essential: what time is it?
Time to go, it seems! It’s hard to say goodbye to this little dreamy beach. I’m almost late if I
On top of the hill, the view is unbelievably amazing, but that might because I’m so happy of this little day out by myself. The crater is not as impressive as the one on Mount Eden, but I can still picture myself rolling down the hill in ecstasy. What annoys me though is that the summit is overcrowded. After spending almost 4 hours all alone, I’m feeling oppressed by the crowd of tourists. I’m not lingering around and go for the Lava Caves. I meet a few French people on the way greeting me with “bonjour!” and I’m really wondering what sold me. The French look on my face? My Quechua backpack?
I finally end up befriending a kiwi couple that I’m leading into the caves thanks to my headtorch (they hadn’t had any source of light) and they take good care teaching me some kiwi slang such as “Sweet as” or “Chur Bro” or the Maori welcoming “Kia Ora!” while getting back on the ferry -on time.
I felt a little twinge on my heart when the boat left the island. I think I really fell for Rangitoto and its volcanic stones.
I promise myself to come back, as to see the parts I haven’t seen yet like the Motutapu Island, connected to Rangitoto by a bridge, on the East Coast. After all, I’m going to be around New Zealand for a whole year. I’ll managed to come back here.
(Spoiler. I never did.)