Rangitoto Island – Climbing a Volcano (New Zealand)
Before I headed to New Zealand I did a bit of research. There was an island, a short ferry ride from Auckland with a volcano on it that people happily climbed! ‘Yes!’ I thought, that sounds bloody awesome! I’ll do that! And so I knew straight away the thing I most wanted to do when I was in Auckland. Even if it wasn’t quite in Auckland.
It turned out that the day we climbed Rangitoto was the annual ‘Santa Parade’ in Auckland. Personally, I didn’t think it sounded that big. Seriously, how many people would turn up for a ‘Santa’ Parade? In November? Thousands upon thousands it seemed. The buses down the main drag were cancelled from the morning, even though the parade was later in the day. The ferries went every couple of hours, and so after waiting for a while and realising there wasn’t going to be a bus, we had to bolt down the road to the ferry terminal.
It took around twenty minutes. It was a couple of kilometres, with traffic lights to slow us down. We needed to make it in 18 minutes as it turned out. We arrived and the ferry pulled out. We then ended up on the 12.15pm ferry. This meant that we would be climbing in the peak of the sun’s powers (and yes, you CAN get badly sunburnt in New Zealand. Not that we did, but it is very possible).
The ferry across was a great little ride, it took about half an hour, and cost $NZ30. The views, when the sun was out, were simply stunning. We left with cloud but returned with blue skies. A company called Fullers run the ferries to Rangitoto Island.
The ferry was packed, and it was a pretty popular thing to do for foreigners and New Zealanders alike. The path is pretty clear, and doesn’t start off too badly. The island was basically born of the sea 600 years ago when the volcano exploded and erupted under the sea, so it’s very young and had a dramatic start to life.
That means that there is a lot of volcanic rock and remnants of lava flows all over the island – it reminded me a little of Hachimantai in Iwate, Japan. The first part of the climb was not too steep, and I was pretty happy with my progress. I wasn’t really getting passed even though there were lots doing the climb.
But the further I went on, the steeper the ascent became. The last kilometre was brutal, and my fitness level was so bad I was having to stop regularly and taking in deep breaths as I was passed by every man and his dog, not to mention grandparents…
The view from the top was pretty impressive. We could see right back to Auckland. The clouds had now disappeared so visibility was excellent. The crater itself wasn’t as impressive – lots of vegetation had grown inside it and so you didn’t get a real sense of how deep it was. It was pretty wide though, I think the path around the crater was 600 metres or more from memory.
On the way down we checked out the lava caves. Caves formed by lava – should have brought a torch. There were two main passageways after a 15 minute detour from the main track, and it’s quite an adventure walking through them. Definitely worthwhile.
And then we descended back to the bottom. It had been quite a climb! The island was very special, and beautiful, even if there were so many tourists it was hard to find a spot to breathe by yourself at times. And, I’d done it! I’d climbed the volcano and lived to tell the tale. It was a rewarding day.
Have you ever been to Rangitoto or climbed a volcano? Please comment below! And of course, May the Journey Never End!