Rangitoto Island is the little island you can see off the coast of Auckland. It’s technically a volcano – and it’s the perfect escape from the city. Just a short ferry ride from Auckland CBD, Rangitoto Island is a great place to go when you’re wanting to get out of the city and get into the wilderness. Here is everything you need to know about visiting Rangitoto Island.
Rangitoto Island: The Ultimate Guide
First off, figure out which ferry you’ll take. See the timetable here. You’ll need to pack a lunch, snacks, and water. There is NOTHING on the island – no store, no water. Bring everything you’ll need for the day. We brought four liters of water (two each), peanut butter sandwiches, carrots, apples, bananas, and date balls.
Next, you’ll need to get to the Downtown Ferry Terminal. Take the train to Britomart, or drive to the Downtown Car Park Garage. The charge for parking is $10 for a full day (San Francisco, take note).
You can purchase your ferry tickets at the little building at the terminal. There is an option to have a tour or to do the hike on your own. We chose to DIY – that way, we could go at our own pace and not be in a group.
Once you get on the ferry, you’ll have just a short ride to Rangitoto Island. The ferry sells food and water, so if you forgot something, you can stock up here.
After about 25 minutes, you’ll arrive at Rangitoto.
The whole island is an old volcano. It last erupted over 600 years ago, but it is still formed out of black, volcanic rock.
Rangitoto Island: The Hike
Take the main trail up to the summit. The climb only takes about an hour, but it gradually increases in steepness. Fun fact: in New Zealand, hiking is called “tramping” – I wonder how proud my mom would be if I told her how often I go tramping?
The trail is mostly just black volcanic rock filled on both sides with either more rock, or some little bushes. Throughout the hike, you’ll come to points with views looking out to the city. The best view is from the summit.
We took a good, long break at the top. You’ll need it! We reapplied sunscreen, drank a lot of water, and ate our little lunch.
Keep in mind, the only bathroom is at the entrance of the island. If you have to go, you’ll have to either pee in a bush or hold it until you get back to the bottom. The main trail is pretty busy, but you might find some seclusion on the crater track at the top.
Rangitoto Island: The Lava Caves
On the way down, we took the detour to the lava caves. We brought headlamps, and Michael went in first. One of the caves actually goes through to the other side (making it more of a tunnel than a cave), and one you can go in a bit until it becomes just solid rock. It’s a nice break from the heat if you’re at Rangitoto Island on a hot day.
Make sure you’re watching your time – the last ferry leaves the island at 5 PM (well before sunset in the summer), and if you miss it, you’ll be stuck on the island overnight. We took the 12:15 ferry to Rangitoto Island, and had just enough time to get to the summit, eat lunch, and check out the caves and the little baches (restored houses) before hopping on the last ferry home.
If you can, I’d recommend going on an earlier ferry. That way, you can have time at the beach, time to hike to the summit, and some time to check out the alternate trails on Rangitoto Island.
We had about four hours on the island, and I wish we would have gone a bit earlier to have more time to explore. If you’re just looking to hike and leave, this is a good amount of time.
Visiting New Zealand? Make sure to check out the New Zealand working holiday visa, and check out my post on How Expensive is Auckland?