Walking Rangitoto

When we visited Auckland recently Tom suggested we visit Rangitoto.

Under the Mountain by Maurice Gee was a book both Tom and I loved as kids. The volcanic island of Rangitoto is where the slug-like aliens called the Wilberforces hide. In the book Rangitoto is linked by underground tunnels to the city of Auckland. The story contrasts a contemporary city setting, in an old house beside Lake Pupuke, with a fantastic subterranean world beneath the volcano of Rangitoto (info from here).

I thought we’d take the ferry to Rangitoto, walk around a bit then lie in the sun and read our books. WRONG. Tom suggested we walk to the summit and it seemed wrong not to.

Here’s how good Tom and I are at geography:

(Walking along)

Me: “Oh it looks like they’ve been doing some rotary hoeing around here.”

Tom: “Yeah, I wonder what that’s for.”

Walk a bit further (there’s rotary hoeing everywhere)…

Me: “Oh maybe that’s the lava and rock.”

Yep. We are geological geniuses.


It takes about 55 minutes to walk to the summit of Rangitoto and it’s a steady uphill climb the whole way. Towards the end it gets hard – the last 300 metres is much steeper – just when your legs have had enough of walking uphill. I had to talk to myself to keep going, I did some counting of steps, reverse counting, pictured the top and just kept going. I thought it’s always much harder to start if you’ve stopped and walking really slowly is still walking.

Getting to the top was totally worth it – incredible views and big, juicy sandwiches and drinks.

Tom at the top of Rangitoto – that’s Auckland in the background

Once we’d recovered, we walked around the basin at the top, walked down to see the caves and tunnels (it was drizzling by this stage, which was refreshing) then headed back to the wharf to explore the island baches.

I loved the baches – they were old, wooden buildings that had been restored in fresh 1950s colours. You could imagine the kids that stayed in them running between each one and all playing together – it would be the perfect setting for a story.

I pictured myself holed up with books in a bach. In reality though you’d probably look up from a page to see some nosey tourist staring at you.

You can see bigger versions of the photos in our Flickr stream.


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