On our first morning in Auckland we decided to be organised and thorough. Guess how that turned out!
Conveniently enough, there was a travel agent based inside the hotel we were staying in so stopped by to ask her a couple of things before catching the ferry to Rangitoto island. Of course, it didn’t turn out as quick and efficient as we had hoped.
It was fairly efficient though – we did catch the ferry, and we also had a rental car to pick up later that same day. The downside was we were in such a rush (because there were only 2 or 3 ferries a day to Rangitoto, and we were set on doing that in the morning), that we did not consider all the options and agreed to come back to the hotel only a few hours later. Oh well, we thought almost running down Queen Street towards the wharf. There’s no turning back now (there was!); we’re already half-way there (we were about 3 min away from the hotel!); it’s a quick walk around the island anyway (it was not that quick).
As the ferry left the wharf I started getting this gnawing feeling that we’ve made the wrong decision. The Glee-wannabes in the next booth definitely weren’t helping the mood by singing out of tune over the voice of the captain who was telling interesting facts about the harbour, the island and other practically useless information which we, nevertheless, wanted to hear. They were playing a game similar to “Who am I” (or whatever it’s called when you get a sticky note with a well known person’s name on it stuck to your forehead, and you have to ask yes and no questions in order to guess who you are), only with an iPhone and without any questions. They just kept singing short flat excerpts from current pop hits, much to the annoyance of everyone present.
When we finally got off and away from the annoying kids the mood was positive again, and we set off exploring the island. We decided to go straight for the crater walk because the next ferry was in only hour and a half and the one after that – in about four hours. On we went through Kidney Fern Glen, a short semi-circular path through a small jungle-like forest, that connects with the summit track. On the way we saw some of the baches that are left from the early 1900s when the island was a popular holiday spot. I wish I could put some pictures of them here, but I’m afraid I accidentally deleted most of the Auckland photos :(( Along the summit track we stopped only for a couple of minutes at some information boards in the middle of a lava field. They said Rangitoto might actually erupt again in the not too distant future. But I guess that’s valid for most of the volcanoes in the Auckland volcanic field.
It was quite interesting to walk around… well, this:
You can call it surreal, because most of the ground looks like freshly ploughed ground, while it is in fact scoria (volcanic rock). What is more amazing is that these lava fields don’t have any soil per se, and still there is abundant vegetation across the island that ranges from exotic flowers like orchids to alpine moss.
The summit is only at 259m and we kept seeing signs, according to which we were going faster than the times given. So we thought, no worries, we’ll nip around that crater and be back in time for the ferry.
Which is when we hit the steps. See, the problem was not that it was steep. It’s that it wasn’t. If it were steep, we would’ve been up there in 20 minutes. But since it’s a volcano – you know the shape of it – it’s quite flat in the outskirts and only steeper just below the crater. That meant it was a constantly slanting path, studded with steps every now and again. At some point I realised the distance between the signs takes us the same time as it says on the signs. So about 40 minutes away from the top, we had to make a decision: either not go to the top and catch the first ferry, or reach the crater, miss the ferry and then me stuck on a completely empty island for another three hours. The latter also meant we would’ve had to deal with getting the car another time, etc., etc. I have to be honest, it sucked big time, because it turned into an argument, and we hadn’t even really set out on this trip yet.
In the end we didn’t get to see the crater itself, no the view of Motutapu island, to which Rangitoto is artificially connected. But we didn’t have to deal with cramming the rest of the day in only a couple of hours and wondering what to do with a couple of hours without any food and with very little water left.
So we didn’t get to experience the whole island but we decided not to let it ruin the vacation and to just consider and plan better from then on.
While waiting for the ferry we found this piece of rock covered in oyster shells. It was really cool because by the way the oysters were molten into the rock, it seems that this particular piece of rock had flown red hot from the volcano and straight into the ocean. It’s a piece of rock about 600 years old. If nothing else, I think it’s cool :)))
Just like this tiny waterfall on fire that we found in Queen Elizabeth Square (where else!).
The reason I’m posting a somewhat unrelated picture now is that I noticed this post is approaching the 1000 words mark and I think that’s enough for a single post on a single island. Seems like I’m not that great with sticking to the gist but it’s just the second post.
I will try again tomorrow with a post about some waterfalls (which were not on fire).