Soulful Rangitoto & Matutapu Islands
Welcome to the soulful Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands. Home to the worlds largest pohutukawa forest, Rangitoto Island is a very special little pocket of Aotearoa. If you’re looking for an interesting, scenic and native day walk, thats good for the soul and close to Auckland, Rangitoto is your answer! The pest-free island is just under 5km offshore of Auckland and about a 30min ferry ride; Or, for a unique mode of transportation, and you’re an experienced kayaker, get adventurous and make your way across the strait with arm-power!
Rangitoto has three day walks to conquer;
1. Meander around the island on the coastal track to neighbouring Motutapu Island or over to Boulder Bay where, at low tide, you are able to view old ship wrecks which were deliberately sunk there as a means of disposal at the end of the 19th century and beginning of 20th. There are about 13 ships there which are now protected for viewing purposes.
Rangitoto Island scenic reserve
2. Trek through Rangitoto Island scenic reserve, which is best in spring, when the native Kōwhai tree of the Kōwhai Grove is in its brilliant yellow bloom (kōwhai means yellow in te reo Māori, the Māori language), also not to be missed is the native Kidney Fern Glen which can be viewed not far after starting on the summit track.
Further on, at Flax Point, there is a breeding Black Gull colony which can be viewed.
The summit track
3. The summit track which takes you through the pōhutukawa forest, with ample native bird life and song. Then, it’s on to the summit lookout where you are further rewarded with wonderful views over the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland city. While you’re up there, check out the volcanic Crater Rim Loop track, which can be circled around. A few hundred meters from the summit is a short de-tour to volcanic caves, bring a head-torch for best viewing inside.
Rangitoto Island is a dormant volcano which is around 600 years old. The island is covered in black volcanic rock, which used to be lava, called scoria. This makes it particularly hot when you are walking on the island. There are no shops, so it’s important to remember to take plenty of supplies to stay well hydrated and keep sun safe.
Rangitoto Islands lava feilds
Todd Eyre Photography
In contrast to the youth of Rangitoto (only 600 years old, practically a child!), Motutapu is estimated to be around 178 million years old. This old girl is has a few war stories (literally) and is still pretty gorgeous. Historically, Motutapu Island was an established Māori settlement and has also been an army base during world war two. The main tracks on the island will take you around to see what this little island is all about.
Motutapu Farm Walkway
Motutapu Farm Walkway will take you a couple of hours each way, up and over from Home Bay to Islington Bay, past regenerating forrest, with fantastic panoramic views of northern Hauraki Gulf.
Rotary Centennial Walk
Haven’t had enough of the amazing views and in need of some history? Taking around two hours each way, start at Home Bay and head north to Northern Junction, continue down Pōhutukawa Track where you will see huge WWII gun emplacements strategically placed at the entrance to Auckland for protection. When you’ve had your fill of historical sites, carry on down to Sandy Bay then head along to Billy Goat Point for more northern beauty!
After you’ve tuckered yourself out discovering the islands beautiful views, pōhutukawas, local and national history and stretching your legs, it must be time for a cool off?
Sandy Bay, Pig Bay, Administration Bay, Home Bay and Waikarapupu/Waikalabubu Bay are all worthy of your attention, great for swimming and picnicking. The only issue is picking one!
This little pocket is pest-free, which also means, there are no rubbish bins – please take everything with you!
Motutapu Restoration Trust are always keen for volunteers, they hold regular conservation days on which you can help out. Pay it forward to the soulful Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands, and future generations, and sign up!
Out exploring Motutapu Island
Todd Eyre Photography
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