Tag Archives: Auckland Volcanoes

Rangitoto island

One of Auckland’s iconic landmarks, Rangitoto Island is an amazing day out. Arrive by ferry or private boat and explore, The 360-degree views of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf from the summit are spectacular. There are plenty of other walking tracks if you are keen to explore further and short lava caves that are worth investigating.

Walk Time1.5 – 2 hours return to summit, plus side walks.
1/2 day to full day to circumnavigate the island.
SurfaceFormed track – lots of loose, fine scoria
Difficulty3/5
Buggies/Wheelchairs0/5 – most tracks not suitable. Vehicle Road is ok.
FacilitiesToilets
HighlightsViews, Lava Caves, Bush, Geology, Swimming

Get there by Ferry, your own boat or kayak!

Catch a short ferry ride from the Auckland Downtown or Devonport Ferry Terminals. Click here to access Fullers Ferry information and purchase tickets.

Fullers Ferry takes you to Rangitoto Island
Fullers Ferry takes you to Rangitoto Island (photo from HERA)

What to see and do?

Rangitoto Island is one of Aucklands most famous volcanoes, seen from many parts of the Auckland Isthmus. Its impressive ’round’ shape and obvious volcanic look make it instantly recognisable.

Rangitoto feels like a volcanic island. The black, rough scroria rock is all around and the many shapes of hard set lava are spectacular and at times dangerous looking! These days the bush has grown a lot on Rangitoto Island, making it a more pleasant and quite stunning
walk, even on hot days.

Walking through native bush on  Rangitoto Island
Walking through native bush on Rangitoto Island

Top suggestions to see:

  • Spectacular views of Auckland City and the Hauraki Gulf from the summit
  • Volcanic rock and formations
  • NZ Native bush
  • Lava caves – some which you can explore – they are only about 30-40m in length and marked on the map above
  • Swim – there is a lot of rocky coastline but the water is beautiful in summer!  You can take the trek to Islington Bay for a sandy beach but this is up to 2 hours!  I will add this to the Google Map when I get the chance to GPS the other tracks.
  • View the remaining historic and original waterfront cottages.
  • Swimming – brave the rocky rugged coastline for a dip or swim at sandy MacKenzie Bay and Islington Bay.

You will want to allow at least half day for exploring this amazing and unique island and can easily take a full day to circumnavigate the island and take in the summit.  Some of the bush is so beautiful and the views back towards Auckland give a unique and picturesque perspective. 

Rangitoto Island Elevation to the summit and the Lava Caves (far right point)
Elevation for the around the Island Track, finishing prior to returning to the wharf

Walking Difficulty and Suitability

Rangitoto is a steady walk and requires average fitness and steadiness on your feet.  It is not suitable for wheelchairs or baby buggies, having stairs.  Underfoot, the scoria can be slippery but fine if you stay aware.

Walking to the summit (260m) is uphill all the way.  There are plenty of beautiful views you can take in to have a break if needed.  It can also get hot – so have plenty of water, along with some snacks. 

There is also plenty of options for easy walks if a person uses the Vehicle Track around the perimeter of the island.  Once off the vehicle track, the routes are generally quite steep and unsteady.

Wheelchair and Buggie Suitability

Rangitoto is generally not suitable for wheelchairs and Buggies unless you stay on the Vehicle Track. This is a dirt road and gets reasonably close to the summit but a 20 – 30 min walk up stairs and steep hills will still be required to reach the summit.

Browns Island auckland

View of Browns Island Crater and Hauraki Gulf
View of Browns Island Crater

Wow – Browns Island in Auckland Harbour – what a cool little island to visit. Browns Island is a small volcanic island that you can visit for an hour or a full day. Rising to 65m above sea level, the views of Auckland City and the Hauraki Gulf as you climb are superb.

Integrated GPS Map of Browns Island

Find tips on how to use this Google GPS Map

Get there by boat, kayak or paddle board

Browns Island is close to Auckland’s mainland. Launch a boat at Halfmoon Bay or another closeby spot or kayak or paddle board from one of the nearby beaches. Crater Bay at the northeast corner is a great landing spot for small boats – it is a good deep water beach – 1.9m of water at half tide only 20m from the beach. We beached our front and unloaded and then anchored about 25m off the beach.

Kayaks and Paddle Boards may want to access via the shallow beach on the southwest side.

What to see and do?

Browns Island Auckland is a fascinating small volcano in the Waitemata Harbour that deserves to be explored. It is mostly grassy paddocks that can be freely walked. Some highlighyts are:

Browns Island Auckland View
View of Auckland City from the summit of Browns Island
  • Climb the volcanic cone to the trig to get a great 360 degree view of Auckland and the Gulf. The volcano is also very defined and worth a look!
  • Walk the circumference of Browns Island
  • Visit the shipwreck on the Southwest beach
  • Examine the three types of volcanic structures present on Browns Island – the only volcano in Auckland to have all three types.
  • Swim at Crater Bay – the water is clear and deep with a nice little beach
  • Search for fossils

Walking Difficulty and Suitability

That walking tracks on Browns Island are largely unformed tracks that just wander through the grass. There are stairs ascending from Crater Bay towards the volcanic cone.

The walk to the summit is short but quite steep – suitable for most, except those who are unsteady on their feet. The island is not suitable for buggies, pushchairs or wheelchairs.

This is a fascinating book on Auckland’s 50 volcanoes. Learn about the prominent, obscure and unexpected. Discover locations, history and geology.  Great book to add to your Auckland collection.

Winter walks in Auckland

Grab your rain jacket, hat and gloves and head outside to warm up with a winter walk!  Even though the weather may not appeal, walking will awaken your senses.

Cornwall Park © 2011-2013 Unleashed Ventures Limited

Go tree spotting in Cornwall Park, Mt Eden and Monte Cecilia Park; and enjoy the benefits of taking a walk on a crisp winter day.

Another place to walk in winter and enjoy the trees is Waiata Reserve which you can walk through on the Remerua to Hobson Bay Circuit.

We cover Cornwall Park and Mt Eden in our new book “Short walks in Auckland:Volcanoes“.

When the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, more views are revealed, and on those beautiful, clear, dry winter days, the sun is great for warming up our bodies!

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Walks in Auckland – One Tree Hill


Walks in AucklandOne of my “most-walked” walks in Auckland is the loop of Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill. This volcano walk is right on my doorstep, I can walk there from my home.

Each season of the year can be enjoyed in this park – from the lambs and daffodils in the spring to the autumn colours in April through to pohutukawa flowers in December. Even when the leaves have dropped from the old oak trees in winter, the trees still look majestic.

Tree lovers may like to read this NZ Herald article: Growing our heritage

Watch video highlights: Walks in Auckland – Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill

The park has many things to enjoy. There are large areas of grass for picnics and ball games. There are the cattle and sheep and birds. There are native New Zealand trees such as the pohutukawa and the yellow flowers of the kowhai, and introduced species such as the oaks and eucalyptus trees. The information centre next to the Cornwall Park Restaurant provides leaflets on all the trees in the park plus information on other aspects.

One Tree Hill is a volcano and it has a fabulous view from the summit that takes in views of other Auckland volcanoes (Mt Eden, Mt Hobson, Mangere Mountain, Rangitoto Island, Mt Wellington, Mt Roskill) as well as views of both harbours – the Waitemata and the Manukau.

The park has picnic areas and barbecues, a bandstand and flower beds. And places where children enjoy riding bicycles and scooters. It includes a children’s playground as well as the Stardome Observatory Planetarium. It really is a great place to spend a day.

For visitors who have to choose between visiting One Tree Hill and Mt Eden – One Tree Hill is a larger area with more to see, sheep and cattle, a cafe plus a fine view from the summit. Whereas Mt Eden has a huge crater and a fabulous view of Auckland City.

If you like a bit of a laugh, in 2008 my son James created a 12 part video series titled ‘Steve McGill of One Tree Hill’ which you may enjoy watching.  “Meet Steve, a farmhand on Auckland’s One Tree Hill who has many misadventures. He loves his job, his gumboots and his sheep.”

Description: A mix of mainly level paths, and a few steep paths. Suitable for users of all ages and abilities, suitable for normal footwear and for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
To see: City views, harbour views, trees, Volcano, farm animals, observatory. The Park is home to many birds ranging from Native Pigeon, Fantail to California Quail, White-faced Heron and Paradise Shelduck.
Time: approx. 60 minutes. (about 5.14kms).
Parking: Carpark, Manukau Road entrance.

12 Volcano WalksSuggested Cafés:
1) Frolic Café, Manukau Road opposite the park entrance. We have had many coffees here – children friendly.
2) Cornwall Park restaurant and ice-cream kiosk
3) Various at Greenwoods Corner (Golf Road exit).

Stay on track…get your detailed guide and map brochures over at our Walks Store  (AC-001 Cornwall Park) and our Book Store (Volcanoes). Or you can download it for free when you sign up in the box at the top right hand side of this page.