New Zealand Travel Guide: Rangitoto IslandFebruary 28, 2009
After a good night’s rest I was ready to see something outside of Auckland’s city center. I hopped the Link Bus down to the wharf again, just in time to get on the Fuller’s boat to Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto was formed by a volcanic explosion 600-ish years ago and is still covered in crunchy black rock. There’s no soil or grass on the island, although trees and some bushes and ferns seem to thrive there.
I opted to take Fuller’s Volcanic Explorer tour, which drives you around the island and up almost to the summit. The drive is bouncy – you’re in a tram driven by a tractor sort of thing – but I like rides of any kind, and I enjoyed the driver’s commentary about the history of the island.
Rangitoto was used as a summer retreat around the turn of the century, with people paying three or four pounds to purchase a tiny cottege, known as a bachelor. Even now around New Zealand you can find baches for rent. Eventually the government took the island over for use as a public park, but there are still about 30 privately owned baches there, their owners having petitioned the government to give them lifetime leases.
The landscape of the island is wild. I’ve never seen big lava fields before, and the amount of big, black rock everywhere was impressive. Repetitive, but impressive.
Once we got to the summit climb I was ready to stretch my legs. It’s 365 steps to the top, not straight up, but circling around, with places to stop for photos or to take in the view. There were a few senior citizens who made the climb, so you should be able to do it just fine. (Ok, I huffed and puffed a little, but I still beat a couple of little old ladies to the top.)
I’ve never seen the inside of a volcano before. Not up close anyway. It was much greener than I expected. Sure, the volcano hasn’t been active in hundreds of years, but I still thought it would be more black and sooty, or have a hole going deep into the earth. Instead, it looked like a big green leafy bowl.
You could tell it was a volcano, but it was hard to imagine that it was ever dangerous.
I snapped some photos, like a good little blogger, then made my way back down, stopping a couple more times to admire the view of Auckland. You really can see the Sky Tower from everywhere.
The ride back to the wharf was just as bumpy, but enjoyable. New Zealand is hardly the third world, but it is very Middle Earth, and the rough landscapes you encounter here are a good reminder of what the planet was like before humans started to overrun it.
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