Auckland is famous for many different things, although volcanoes aren’t usually one of them.
While the sailboats, wine, and iconic waterfront are just a few of the city highlights, there nevertheless sits a volcanic island just minutes from downtown Auckland.
Symmetrical, rugged, and only 550 years old, a visit to volcanic Rangitoto Island is one of the best day trips from Auckland. Ferries depart from the city’s north shore and cross the bay in about 25 minutes, and once on shore, an hour-long trek leads to a summit which was active just centuries ago. Though experts expect that Rangitoto Island will eventually erupt again, currently it’s safe to trek on the island without fear of an eruption.
While the climb to the summit can be rocky and strenuous, the panoramic view of the Auckland skyline is regarded as one of the best in the city. Gaze out over Waitemata Harbor past the flotillas of colorful sailboats, and snap some photos of the Auckland Sky Tower silently keeping watch over the city. In the east, the vineyard-lined hillsides of Waiheke Island are visible across the gulf. To the west, forested hills separate the city from the distant Tasman Sea.
For those who would like to experience the panorama without making the hour-long trek, a tractor-pulled tram chugs its way up the mountain and finishes just short of the summit. Towards the top, consider making a detour into a lava tube or cave, themselves remnants of the volcanic activity which is evident everywhere you look.
When visiting Rangitoto Island, be sure to pack a lunch as there is no food available on the island. The same goes for water and any amenities you’ll need for the trail. Finally, since Rangitoto has officially been classified as a completely “pest-free” island, be sure to check your bags and belongings to keep out any unwanted visitors.