A whirlwind day trip around Auckland to Mount Eden and Rangitoto Island
To assume, as the saying goes, is to make an ass of you and me. In this case, entirely making an ass of me.
I’ll come to why this is the case in a wee moment. For my very brief time in Auckland area I decided explore as many extinct volcanoes as I could in a day (this turned out to be two) The city itself is located within a large volcanic field in which there are 48(!) volcanoes (known in Maori as Maunga, none of which are active.
Chasing dawn at Mount Eden
So back to assumptions. I assumed as I walked (trudged) up Mount Eden Road to the that I would have the place to myself – it was 06:00 after all. Who else would be awake then? EVERYONE apparently. Located about 30 mins walk from the City Centre, Mount Eden offers jaw dropping 360 degree views from the summit, it is easily accessible for tourists and local residents alike wanting to take in the sunrise.
So as I arrived at the top, in time for the sun to be winking over the Coromandel peninsula in the distance, I was joined by dozens of dog walkers, fitness enthusiasts, and three dozen tourists on a photography tour. Bugger.
Despite the crowds and some cloud cover, the views are nothing short of extraordinary and well worth the effort.
Before anything else happens this morning – COFFEE! One enormous coffee later I made my way towards Princes Wharf to catch the Ferry to Rangitoto Island approx. 35 mins via Devonport – this was going to be a day of walking up extinct volcanoes.
Rangitoto Island meaning ‘bleeding skies’ was formed from lava, often referred to as a shield volcano. The island itself was occupied during WW2. There are number of lookout posts around the island. If you have a bit more time on your side, Rangitoto connects to Motutapu Island for further exploration.
I met fellow traveller, Chad from Calgary and we hiked to the summit together with single goal of beating the other tourists and children from the Ferry to the top (attempting to this time to get a quiet moment or two at the summit). The trail itself is 2.5km on a gentle incline (occasionally not) the panoramic views across the Hauraki Gulf were simply stunning
On the way down from the summit, Chad and I stopped to check out the Lava tubes – which at first glance to be honest were not much to look at. A local woman (Michelle) with her children suggested the middle one as “it was the best” – So I went in, followed by Michelle’s children, the Michelle called out, “Keep an eye for the Wetas” ***…..the first 15 metres or so are crawling room only (did I mention I’m claustrophobic? nothing like facing it head on), the tube then opened out to standing room and more, its an wonderful space (to be honest if you don’t fancy getting filthy you can give it a miss) the tube goes right through to the other side, it’s a little challenging to emerge from but doable.
Ferry back to Auckland city – or you do have the option of staying on the island overnight if you pre-book one of the very charming Bachs dotted around the island.
Getting to Rangitoto Island
It’s super easy to get there, take a 25 min ferry rode with Fullers Ferries from Princes Wharf. Fare around $33NZD for an Adult return.
Top tips for Mt Eden and Rangitoto Island
- Arrive at the top of Mount Eden well before dawn and claim your photo spot early.
- Bring your own water and snacks – there are no shops on the island.
- Check the Ferry times for Rangitoto
- Bring a waterproof jacket – the weather can change pretty quickly.
- Bring a headtorch with you for the Lava tubes, a phone torch doesn’t quite cut the mustard.
P.S with Mount Eden being 196 high and Rangitoto 260 meters to the summit, I discovered the next morning muscles in the legs and backside I never thought existed. Would definitely recommend some kind of stretching before and after. Bahahahaha I’m convinced that the City centre of Auckland almost has more hills than San Francisco…almost
*** A Weta, I’m glad I didn’t know what that is when Michelle warned me to keep an eye for them, after confirming with her it was not a snake I carried on into the dark…I’m not a fan of wee beasties, I think in this case ignorance was bliss below is a Weta (very happy to not have come across one of these.)