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Nature & Wildlife

Rangitoto Island attractions, things to do and getting there

  • 3 minutes

Devonport, Auckland

New Zealand’s latest volcanic upstart is a witness to New Zealand’s place on the Pacific ring of fire. It is a fascinating place to observe the natural plant colonisation of a volcanic island. The walks and views as well as the island’s proximity to Auckland make Rangitoto a favourite day trip destination.

Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto Island Top Sites

  • Extraordinary geological features showcasing recent volcanic activity (600 years ago)
  • Superb views of the Waitemata Harbour and Auckland skyline
  • Rangitoto is home to interesting walking trails in New Zealand
  • Historic baches are now under the watchful eye of the Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust

A volcanic dormant island is a visitor drawcard. The popular destination is a must-go day trip from the Auckland Downtown Ferry terminal. New Zealand’s latest volcanic upstart is a witness to New Zealand’s place on the Pacific ring of fire. For overseas visitors a chance to get up close and personal with very recent lava flows.

Rangitoto Island walking trails

  • Climb 260 metres to the symmetrical summit for panoramic views of Auckland
  • Explore lava caves approximately 200m from the summit on the eastern side. Lava caves are the result of liquid lava rapidly cooling. Remember your torch if you would like to explore the caves fully, as there is minimal natural lighting.
  • Rangitoto shipwrecks between 1887 – 1947 unwanted vessels were deliberately sunk. These vessels are best viewed at low tide. Known as the Rangitoto hulks, some large pieces of wreckage are now a heritage site. Walking along the Islington Bay Road over lava fields to the Boulder Bay Track it is about one hour (one way to the wrecks from the wharf).
Rangitoto island volcanic area, Auckland, New Zealand
Rangitoto island volcanic area
Fullers ferry @Fullers360
Fullers ferry @Fullers360

Fullers Ferry schedule pick up and departure notices for Rangitoto Island

Fullers Ferry posts very large signs for the final daily ferry sailing. There are no shops on the island. Fullers Ferry notice:

From time to time, adverse weather conditions require Fullers to sail into Islington Bay Wharf instead of Rangitoto Wharf. This means there are some changes to your walking time on the island.

It may take up to an extra hour to walk to and from the summit from Islington Bay, and the track is shared by vehicles. Fullers recommend you plan your walk accordingly and note the time of the last ferry leaving the island. If you are unsure of which wharf Fullers will be sailing to, please call the customer care team on 09 367 9111 on the morning of your departure.

Visiting Rangitoto Island – Recommended supplies

  • Water, snacks, food– there are no food outlets on the island
  • Sturdy walking shoes for the uneven lava surface, sunscreen and a sun hat
  • Waterproof rain jacket, and warm layers. Temperatures can change quickly, regardless of the season.
  • Carry rubbish out as Rangitoto is a predator free island. Please remember to take all your rubbish, including leftover food, off the island with you.
  • Bicycles, scooters and skateboards are not allowed
  • Dogs and fires (including barbeques) are forbidden
Rangitoto Island and Hauraki Gulf from Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand
Rangitoto Island and Hauraki Gulf from Devonport

Getting to & around Rangitoto Island

Access is by FULLERS FERRY service, Auckland Downtown Ferry Terminal.

Best time to go to Rangitoto Island

Year round with Auckland’s sub-tropical climate (winter months carry waterproof layers).

Allow up to five hours for the summit climb and exploration around the bays. It is recommended you depart Auckland Downtown Ferry Terminal early morning to enjoy a day on Hauraki Gulf island. Combined with Auckland outdoors, conservation stories, travel destinations in Auckland are a year round treat. For more information about Rangitoto check out Rangitoto Island: Places to go in Auckland.

The Department of Conservation offers a 4WD tractor-pulled tram half-day guided tour. The tour usually operates in the peak summer season. Check beforehand to avoid disappointment and pre-booking are strongly encouraged for both the ferry ride and 4WD excursion.

As Rangitoto Island is managed by the Department of Conservation adhere to their guidelines at all times. There are two wharves – Rangitoto Wharf, serviced by public ferries; and Islington Bay Wharf, a popular anchorage for private boats. Private boats may use the wharves for loading and unloading passengers only. You can take a public passenger ferry or charter.
Find authorised transport operators to this island.

Yes, the sheltered waters of the Waitemata Harbour make it a sea kayaker’s must-go activity. Check out Auckland Sea Kayaks for details. Rangitoto is also accessible to experienced kayakers. It takes around two hours to kayak to Rangitoto Wharf from Auckland’s North Shore.

Rubbish in & rubbish out on Rangitoto Island

There are no shops on Rangitoto Island and no drinking water. Also there are no public rubbish bins on Rangitoto or Motutapu. You must take all your rubbish with you when you leave.


Rangitoto accommodation

Since the 1920s the baches on Rangitoto Island have been available to only a few families but now you too can experience bach life. Two of these historic baches have been lovingly restored in keeping with their age, still self-contained but with the convenience of solar power and chemical toilets. There are currently two baches available to rent – Bach 78 and Bach 114. These are both located at Islington bay on Rangitoto Island.

Rangitoto history

Rangitoto is a large island of 2311 hectares volcanic landscape that supports over 200 species of moss, plants and trees including the largest Pohutukawa forest in the world. It was purchased by the Crown in 1854, set aside as a recreation reserve in 1890 and for over 30 years the island’s volcanic scoria was quarried and shipped to Auckland. Between 1925 and 1936 prison labour-built roads on the island and a track to the summit.

Source About Rangitoto Island

The beach. Classic scene pohutukawa tree, Takapuna beach, with blurred Rangitoto Island, Auckland
Takapuna beach, with blurred Rangitoto Island
Motutapu Island, Auckland, New Zealand @DOC
Motutapu Island @DOC

Motutapu Island

Across a natural causeway is Motutapu Island. Motutapu is ancient, 178 million years old Motutapu is one of the oldest land masses in the Hauraki Gulf. The island has lived an exciting life – it was intensively settled by Maori, it hosted massive Victorian picnic parties, and was a base during WWll. It is well known for its endangered native bird population, the native bird the beautiful tieke. Allow several hours to explore Motutapu Island.

Check DOC resource for up to date information.

Camp on Motutapu Island – Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp.

Spend the night or two on Motutapu Island. Main Camp, Lodge and Cottage offers a chance to stay longer.


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