Tag Archives: Volcano

Rangitoto, We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Devonport

For the past two months, I’ve been settling into a basic routine with work and making arrangements for my long term stay.  But today I threw the routine out the window!  Now, thanks to my new ride, I can finally travel the country!  I decided to head to Devonport today, which took about 30 minutes to get to from my flat.  It’s just across the bay from downtown Auckland.

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My first stop was Mt. Victoria, another extinct volcano and the highest for miles around.  I parked my car and climbed to the top in about 15 minutes.  It’s very surprising how fast you can walk to the top when you see it towering above you in the distance.  The views were spectacular.

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We’ve been having a lot of rain lately, so it seemed that everyone was trying to take advantage of the lovely weather and take their sailboats out for a cruise around the bay.

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I stayed at the top for about a half hour.  By that time I was pretty sick of dodging out of peoples’ photographs, and from the top I was able to plan out my route to downtown Devonport to search for some fish n’ chips.  I walked down to the edge of the bay and followed the beach west to the little town.  The beaches had sand, but there was also a lot of jagged volcanic rock.  There’s nothing like scary, black, jagged rocks on the beach to remind me that I’m not in Ocean City!

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I found a nice little place to eat my fish n’ chips with an outdoor seating area.

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The town was very clean and had an old, chic feel to it.  It reminded me of an upscale downtown D.C. neighborhood, except this neighborhood had palm trees!  And palm trees make everything better.  You know what I mean!  No one ever sees a palm tree and says, “Oh man, not palm trees!”  No.  They are excited to see that palm tree.

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I really enjoyed walking around the little town and watching the boats drift past in the bay.  I think I am definitely ready to head out of Auckland on my next road trip.  There are so many places to visit, I am having a hard time deciding where to go next.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

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Volcanos Everywhere!

I climbed a real volcano last week!  No, it wasn’t spitting fire or leaking lava everywhere, but it’s still a real volcano.  Mount Eden is considered dormant and, according to Wikipedia, hasn’t erupted for 28,000 years!  I hiked with a couple friends from the hostel all the way to the top.  It took about 20 minutes to get there from the summit, which was a lot faster than I anticipated.  The climb was tiring and steep, but well worth it!  Here are some of the pictures from the 360 degree views from the top:

Downtown Auckland

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The crater is pretty deep and completely covered in grass.  I really wanted to go down in it, but there were signs forbidding that and it probably would have sucked to have to try and climb back out.

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I visited the Auckland Museum and got in for free because of my visa!  The 1st floor (they call it ground level) was full of Maori historical artifacts.  The Maori are the indigenous people of NZ, who first arrived in NZ about 800 years ago.  They have full size replicas of ships and real canoes that were made from a single log and could carry 100 warriors to battle.

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On the 2nd floor (they call it 1st level) they had the natural history of NZ.  More volcanos!  They actually have a room that simulates what it’s like to be downtown during an eruption.  It was actually pretty scary.  Speaking of scary they also had lots of stuffed animals.  As in, real birds and fish and mammals that have been preserved and stuffed.  I now know what a bear’s fur feels like!

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The 3rd floor (you guessed correctly, they call it 2nd level) is all war history, which I wasn’t really interested in.  I took a quick look around but I didn’t take many pictures.

Auckland is currently having a two week long arts festival and one of the main events is called The Breath of the Volcano by Group F.  For this show, they used the Auckland Museum as a backdrop and the Auckland Domain as a seating area.  It was fantastic!  They had fireworks and fire and music and people covered in lights!  It’s really hard for me to explain what exactly happened in that hour, but just know that it was the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen!  You can find Group F on youtube and check out other things they have done.  It might give you some idea of what it was like.

That’s all for now!  I’ll let you know when anything else exciting happens!

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