Auckland Adventures: Rangitoto Island
The weekend before I left New Zealand, I stayed with my long time best friend up in Auckland. She only had the Sunday off that week, so she suggested we do something a bit more interesting than hanging around at her place. Seeing as I had been going on about trying to be healthy, we decided to get the ferry to Rangitoto Island off the coast of Auckland and go for a hike.
The night before we went for a walk up Mount Eden, which is a small mountain in the central part of the city which affords a nice view of Auckland. It was getting dark so my iPhone doesn’t exactly capture it, but I tried.
After this, not so in keeping with the health theme, we went a local pub near my friend’s house and got ciders and burgers. Totally worth it.
On Sunday morning we dragged ourselves out of bed and headed into the city to catch the ferry to Rangitoto. It was the perfect day for a hike – overcast, slight wind and no rain forecasted.
Rangitoto is a volcano and an island (a volcanic island), so it’s basically composed of loads and loads of rough and alien looking black volcanic rock. Usually people visiting go up to the summit, but my friend had done that track before and she had recently read about an area of the island called ‘Wreck Bay’ where you can see a lot of shipwrecks along the shore and in the bay itself. We figured we had time to go out to Wreck Bay and then on the way back go via the summit. It didn’t exactly work out like that.
To help illustrate, here is the map we were working from:
It oh-so-usefully lists walking times as oppose to distances. Each of these sections took us about half the recommended time. We’re not super fit either, so it’s a pretty depressing commentary on the state of the average person.
With our walking speed, conceivably we should have been able to do both and been back at the wharf in time for the last ferry back to the city. However we didn’t count on the difficulty rating for the Wreck Bay/Boulder Bay track being less about fitness and more about appropriate walking gear. It was less of a track and more of a path where the jagged volcanic rocks had been ground up a bit smaller. This is not an exaggeration.
I was wearing a pair of trainers that on the best of days were pretty useless on anything tougher than gravel. I may as well have been wearing socks the way my feel felt walking this track. After about 15 minutes I was ready to throw it in, admit defeat and go check out the summit. My friend however, spurred on by promises of shipwrecks, somehow convinced me that we should keep going.
After what honestly felt like hours, but was in reality closer to forty minutes (even handicapped by my shoes and in constant pain we beat the time, what the hell) we cleared the wasteland and found Wreck Bay. I didn’t realise until I sat down that my shoes were shredded.
They ended up even worse on the way back. I threw them out after this experience.
After some inspection, it turned out that Wreck Bay contained only one visible wreck – and there wasn’t much of it left. We found out that the listed wrecks are not a list of the shipwrecks you can see now, just a list of all the ones that have ever been there. Back in the days when it was harder (and I imagine more costly) to break down old ships, they used to just dump them in places like this, a ship graveyard. While interesting, it didn’t make for very exciting viewing. At least not as exciting as we had hoped for.
On the map, we saw that Boulder Bay was only just around the corner and professed to have more wrecks, so we actually climbed our way around off-track to get a view. It was disappointing, with only one even-less-of-a-wreck than Wreck Bay (as you can see in the photo). We didn’t bother going down there.
After we’d struggled our way around the bay, photographed everything to death and sat down for a good half hour resting and eating our lunch, it was time to face the dreaded track again. We were surprised to find it seemed half as long as before, though because we now had an end point in mind and knew where we were going, I guess we should have expected it. Either way, we made it back to the main track with enough time to go a little further to another jetty and then walk the Islington Bay Road back the way we came.
It was definitely an experience. I wouldn’t take it back, but it would have been a lot more pleasant with some decent shoes! I’ll be going back to Rangitoto the next time I am in New Zealand, and this time I will see the summit. I’m not sure I’ll be going back to Wreck Bay any time soon though.