Just a half-hour ferry ride from Auckland, Rangitoto Island offers active travelers an adventurous escape from the city. This 600-year-old dormant volcano boasts stunning panoramic views of Auckland and a selection of rugged walks both up and around the island, most of them suitable for people of all fitness levels.
Rangitoto Island, in the middle of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, is popular with hikers: the easy summit track offers stunning views of the Auckland landscape, and it’s a short walk from the summit to Rangitoto’s striking lava caves. For snorkelers, on the northern side of the island is Wreck Bay, a ship graveyard with wrecks dating back to 1887. Rangitoto is connected to nearby Motutapu Island by causeway, and both islands are home to a wide range of native plants and animals. Rangitoto’s summit track cuts through the world’s largest pohutukawa forest, and birds such as saddleback and kaka live around the summit and in the forest.
You can explore Rangitoto with a guided half-day 4WD or kayaking tour from Auckland. Alternatively, experienced paddlers can kayak to Rangitoto from Auckland; there are rental companies around the city. For easy summit access, ride a “road train” (tram pulled by a tractor) to the top of the island.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Rangitoto Island is ideal for hikers and active nature lovers.
- Discover Rangitoto’s history as a military outpost, and explore the remaining command posts and bunkers near the summit.
- Learn more about Rangitoto’s history at the Bach 38 museum, right next to Rangitoto Wharf.
- Wear sturdy shoes, tote a flashlight, and carry plenty of snacks and water (there are no shops on Rangitoto).
- Rangitoto and Motutapu are proudly pest-free thanks to concerted conservation efforts, so check your bags and clothes before you take the ferry over.
How to Get There
Rangitoto Island is accessible only by boat. Catch a public ferry from Auckland to Rangitoto, anchor your private boat in Islington Bay, or join a guided tour to the island.
When to Get There
It’s best to visit Rangitoto when the weather is good and the skies are clear: inclement weather can obstruct the perfect views of Auckland—and you risk injury on some of the more rugged tracks. Try visiting on a weekday, as Rangitoto is popular with local weekenders.
Stay Overnight on Rangitoto Island
It’s possible—and wonderful—to spend the night on Rangitoto or Motutapu. New Zealand’s Department of Conservation has two private baches (holiday houses), Bach 114 and Bach 78, that travelers can rent for the night. If you’d rather sleep under the stars, there’s a beachside campsite at Home Bay on Motutapu Island.