Climbing a Volcano: Mount Rangitoto

“If Mount Rangitoto ever erupts, we’re all dead,” my friend Steph, an Auckland native, said soonafter I arrived to New Zealand. Comforting words for someone just arriving to a country (and before I’d had a chance to get a better grasp on Kiwi humor :)). After being assured it was a well-known fact, but not a serious threat for the coming century, I got interested in the day hike of Mt. Rangitoto.

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Rangitoto Island, seen from the Sky Tower.

It’s impossible to miss the volcano–a prevalent feature of the wider Auckland skyline, seen just east of the bridge connecting the North Shore of Auckland to the CBD. (And seen here from the Sky Tower, a worth-it tourist attraction that provides views of the city from high in the sky.)

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The start of the hike on Rangitoto Island.

I’d been wanting to climb Rangitoto since I arrived in Auckland, but scheduling didn’t allow for a free day whenever I was there, and I figured, it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon–hopefully. 😉

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So when I found a free day during my trip around the North Island in April, it was game on!

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Near the halfway point of the climb up.

The trip was as easy as it sounded: first, I boarded a ferry from the wharf in the CBD and arrived to Rangitoto Island just 25 minutes later.

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The island is unpopulated, and staying overnight isn’t allowed. As with the rest of New Zealand’s environmentally friendly rules, reminders for visitors not to leave any rubbish and to take everything with them were clear on the boat and when entering the island.

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The view mid-way.

The climb starts out easy, with slow inclines, walking on a gravely path of volcanic rocks. It’s definitely a change of scenery from typical green, forested trails in New Zealand.

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As the climb goes up, views of the city skyline are visible. The hike up is about 45 minutes at an average pace, and I enjoyed stopping to take in the views while kids raced past me.

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Once at the top, after a steep incline for the last 15 minutes followed by quite a few stairs, the highest view is the reward. (The phone I was using hardly does it justice.) Even though the day was overcast, the sights were wonderful.

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Auckland skyline with the Sky Tower in the center.

Then, it was back down the same path for the return hike, to wait for the ferry–which I was warned not to miss, since getting back by any other means would be pretty pricey. Mount Rangitoto is a nice hike for all fitness levels, and being able to do the return hike in just an hour and a half (or quicker if you want) makes it a good half-day activity while visiting Auckland.

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Waiting for the ferry.

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