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Published: March 17th 2008
Liz, Glynn and Allard leave the urban sprawl behind.
Auckland is a city built on not one but over 50 volcanoes, all of which are blessedly dormant (but not extinct!). This lends the urban sprawl some fabulous features including a rolling landscape, plenty of big green spaces and a sense that you are never far away from nature's beauty.
Just across the water from the CBD (Central Business District) where we live, stands the mysterious Rangitoto Island, Auckland's newest volcano at just 650 years old. Given that the ferry terminal is just a 20 minute walk away for us at the moment, we decided to treat Liz and Allard for a change and invited them to spend a day exploring the wonders of this distant nature reserve. Liz in particular jumped at the chance as she hasn't been for over 20 years!
We caught the Fuller's ferry over at 9.15am and disembarked just 25 minutes later. The forecast had promised cloudy but dry skies - ideal weather for a hike. We started straight off on the track to the summit all the while marvelling at the abundance of vegetation on this plateau of centuries old lava. Here and there we saw massive lava flows with just a solitary
Auckland on Sea
I love living in such a modern city that's right there on the waterfront.
tree sprouting from some life giving pocket hidden below the surface. There was even a small track leading to a rare patch of kidney ferns that were so vibrantly green and shiny that they could have been made of plastic! The landscape was otherwise almost completely black but for the occasional greenery, aptly demonstrating how resilient nature can be.
As we neared the upper section of the track, Allard, Glynn and I took a detour to visit some lava caves which were located down some particularly rocky terrain. It was well worth making the effort to see these big gaping holes in the ground beneath our feet formed by air trapped in the lava when it was cooling all those years ago, as well as from boulders spewed out by the eruption and some shifts in land mass since. The best part was getting to walk through not one but two cave tunnels with rocky ceilings hanging so low, you had to bow your head right down and at times even crawl on all fours. There were big tree roots dangling down too giving the caves a truly netherworld feel.
Unfortunately, it was at this point that Glynn
These little holiday homes are called bachs(pronounced batch). I liked this one all tucked away behind a lava flow.
realised he had left his camera on a bench way down the main track. He sprinted off to see if he could find it while Allard and I returned to Liz and continued to make our way uphill. Minutes later, Glynn reappeared with the bad news that the camera was gone. All we could do now is hope that someone would hand it in. We ploughed on up to Rangitoto's summit where we were rewarded with 360 degree views of Auckland and the surrounding waters and islands. It was breathtaking - literally!
After a spot of lunch, we opted to make our way back down via a different track. This one took about 1.5 hours and led us gently downhill to Mackenzie Bay where we discovered a red and white striped lighthouse perched on a rocky outcrop. Nearby we were pleased to discover a small snady beach where we could sit and unwind. The water looked really inviting and it wasn't long before shoes and socks were kicked off and barefeet were dunked in.
With refreshed feet, we followed the coastal track all the way back round to the ferry wharf. It was another long walk but well
At first we couldn;t work out why these rare plants were called kidney ferns - that is until we unravelled one!
worth it for the distant views of the city and the Skytower and just to be close the craggy lava flows spilling into the sea. There were return a ferries scheduled at 3.30 and 5pm but we weren't sure if we'd make the earlier one in time. With some grit and determination and a little bit of luck, we reached the boat just in the nick of time only to find a long, long queue of fellow trekkers waiting to leave too. It seemed like everyone from our arrival ferry and the two after that had decided to return at the same time. In fact, there were too many people to fit on one ferry and they had to lay on a second one to get us all back!
At the ferry terminal, Glynn reported his camera lost but then Liz cheered us up again by treating us all to ice cream as a reward for a hard day's trekking. Kiwis make the creamiest ice cream in the world and it was a taste of heaven. Back at the apartment, we flopped down and managed to barely move a muscle for the remainder of the evening. It was another
Go with the Flow
Glynn comes to the conclusion that this lava flow might not be the best place for walking!
brilliant day. God, I love living here!
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