This place is definitely not Kansas. At least not from what I’ve seen in pictures of Kansas. That’s Rangitoto Island, also known as the most recent volcanic cone in Auckland. I’ve wanted to explore the island ever since I arrived in Auckland and I finally took the opportunity last weekend. I took the ferry over early in the morning to avoid climbing during the middle of the day since it gets pretty hot. Once off the ferry there were two trails I could choose from. One goes to the top of the volcano and the other is a stroll around the waterfront. Saving the stroll for later, I started climbing. Right away the lava rock reminds you that this is a volcanic island.
Those rocks are seriously jagged. It would be an effective form of torture to make someone walk over those things barefoot. The lava rock fields don’t last for long, however. About ten minutes in you’re basically walking uphill through a forest. Halfway up the trail I found a sign pointing down a side trail that said “Lava Tubes”. Um, yes please! A lava tube is made when flowing lava cools on the top and hardens while liquid lava underneath continues flowing. Eventually the liquid runs out and a hollow tube of hardened lava is left.
The ones on Rangitoto are big enough to climb through! I was so excited to start climbing that I got so far in I couldn’t see anything anymore. At that point something dropped onto the back of my neck and I freaked out a little. I managed to convince myself it was just a drop of water and got my cell phone flashlight turned on.
The inside of the tube was very similar to a cave, with roots hanging down from the ceiling and parts that narrowed to a tight squeeze to get through. It took about 10 minutes to climb through to the end of the tube. Looking back this was probably my favorite part of the whole trip, freakout aside.
Once back on the main trail, the going got a bit steeper than it had been the first half of the way. By the time I reached the cone, the humid forest had sapped a good deal of energy from me. Luckily, it was nice and breezy at the top. The cone was filled with trees and vegetation giving an odd perspective looking down into it. It looked like a giant leafy bowl. The highest point of the cone gave great views to the surrounding bay and coastlines.
I ate my lunch and enjoyed the views for about an hour before heading back down to explore the coastline. I was able to enjoy the trail a bit more on the way down since I wasn’t focusing on making my way uphill. The birds on the island sang beautiful songs and I was able to get a good picture of one of them.
I wish I could tell you what kind of bird this is, but I have no idea.
The coastline trail was full of surprises. The jagged rocks went all the way down into the water where they were slowly being eroded smooth. I saw lots of mosses and interesting looking plants as well.
This one was my favorite. I spent about 5 hours on the island and I loved it. I had the trail to myself most of the time, but whenever I passed someone by it was always a friendly face. I would definitely recommend it.
My time in Auckland is winding down now, I only have a few weeks left at the golf course before I start out on my road trip and then head home. In the coming weeks I’ll be playing golf, spending time with people I am going to miss dearly, and playing more golf. I’ll post again soon, but until then Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!