- Inner Hauraki Gulf, 9km from downtown Auckland
Rangitoto and Motutapu are currently the site of one of the most ambitious island pest eradications undertaken anywhere, with the removal of rats, mice, rabbits, stoats, hedgehogs and wild cats from rugged and varied terrain.
- Such a large, safe haven (3842 hectares over both islands) so close to New Zealand’s largest city opens up enormous possibilities. Not only does it relieve pressure on Rangitoto’s unique pohutukawa and rata forest, it allows for the introduction of threatened species such as kiwi, kaka, tuatara and mistletoe. The eradication’s success is already being seen. Late last year a self-introduced kakariki was found breeding on Motutapu for the first time.
- “Te Rangi i totongia a Tamatekapua” – the day the blood of Tamatekapua was shed. Chief of the Arawa canoe that arrived about 1350, Tamatekapua fought a major battle with Tainui at Islington Bay and lost. Maori have a long association with Rangitoto but did not live here because of the arid, rocky terrain.
- In 1854 the Crown bought the island for £15 and for many years it was a major source of basalt for Auckland’s construction industry. Nearly 40 years later, the island was designated a public domain, and along with neighbouring Motutapu, became a favourite destination for picnickers and day trippers.
- During the early part of the 20th century, campsites were leased and baches built. Thirty of these classic kiwi holiday homes still stand, largely unchanged since the 1930s. A volunteer trust is restoring several of them, keeping alive the sense of co-operation, friendship and fellowship enjoyed by the families privileged to have a toehold on this fascinating island.
- Rangitoto's tumbled scoria seems an inhospitable environment for plant life, yet the island hosts more than 200 species of native trees and flowering plants. Although most are common, many have unique ways of coping - mudloving mangroves grow directly on lava; perching plants (which normally sprout in the forest canopy) grow on the ground; an alpine lichen grows at sea level. The island also has New Zealand’s largest pohutukawa forest.
- Although bush birds are sparse this will change as the island recovers. Seabirds abound.
- Accessing this DOC scenic reserve is easy. There are regular ferries to Rangitoto and Islington Bay wharves and safe anchorages for private boats. Sturdy walking shoes or boots are required to cope with the island’s rugged lava surfaces.
- Getting there:
- Rangitoto is in the inner Hauraki Gulf, nine kilometres from downtown Auckland, and there are many ways of getting there. The more adventerous can windsurf, kayak or sail a catamaran from Okahu Bay or the North Shore's Cheltenham, Takapuna or Milford beaches. It's a 20-minute spin in an outboard dinghy from Takapuna; there's even an annual swim from Rangitoto to the Tamaki shore. Most people take the downtown ferry service operated by Fullers to Rangitoto Wharf or the newly reopened Home Bay Wharf on Motutapu.
- Rangitoto is a DOC-managed scenic reserve.
- Wharves and anchorages:
- Rangitoto and Islington Bay wharves are for licensed commercial users only.
- There are no safe anchorages on the northern side of the island until Gardiner's Gap. The beach here is sandy and sheltered from the south and dries out fully at low tide. Islington Bay is a favourite anchorage to both Rangitoto and Motutapu.
- Rangitoto Wharf and Islington Bay have toilets.
- Bring enough to drink. The only drinking water available is a fountain at Rangitoto Wharf.
- None. The nearest accommodation is on Motutapu, either basic campsites at Home Bay or an outdoor recreaton centre lodge at Administration Bay.
- DOC Information Centre: 09 379 6476
- DOC ranger (lives on Motutapu Island): 09 372 2060 or 0274 372 576
- DOC Auckland Area Office: 09 445 9142
- DOC Hotline (24 hours): 0800 362 468
The book "Exploring The Hauraki Gulf" contains this and more information about the history and wildlife of the Gulf as well as images and maps.
In 1854 the Crown bought the island for £15 and for many years it was a major source of basalt for Auckland’s construction industry