The other day I talked about climbing my first volcano, Rangitoto Island, but later that night I realized that I had already climbed my first volcano. Mount Victoria in Devonport was an old volcano and if I had made the effort to figure out how to get to the top of North Head, I could say by now that I had climbed two volcanoes on my first day in New Zealand. Alas, I can only say I climbed one, though it was a small, extinct volcano.
However, on Day 3, after a 20 minute bus ride to Devonport and then another 30 minute ferry ride (check out the tourist magazines for a 10% discount on one adult fare), I landed on Rangitoto Island to start my trek to the summit of this dormant volcano. According to Julie, the last time it erupted was 600 years ago. According to all the information boards, it is considered to be the youngest volcano in New Zealand. It is also recognized as a pest-free island. Rangitoto has a neighbouring island, Motutapu that is connected by the Motutapu Island Causeway. So, both islands are actually pest-free. And the government really means to keep it that way. As I made my way towards the summit, I could see pest traps laid out along the side of the path. Inside was an egg and some other item for consumption. I’m gonna guess poison. But that would only be a guess. Anyway, it was a different world on this island. When you first approach the island from the water, looking up at the summit you see lots of greenery, but as soon as you get onto the path, you are surrounded by lava rock and then as you make your way up along the path, you realize that it’s not a dirt path, it is crushed lava rock. Pretty neat to see, because it was all black. There was some vegetation around, but mostly you see the black rock. It is a bit of trudge at first on the path, not that it was difficult, but you are walking in a line behind all the other people that were on the ferry with you. Some of them may have joined up with the volcanic explorer tour, a guided road-train trip with commentary, but a good majority of the people are hiking to the summit. But eventually these people who are all shapes and sizes either moved on ahead, branched off to different tracks or stopped at the information boards that were set up along the way. Once that happens, it was easy to move on passed these obstacles and proceed to my goal, the summit which was 259 m above sea level. Not much height considering some of the hikes I’ve done back home, but since I had just arrived in the country and basically come out from ‘hiking hibernation’ , 259 m is not that bad. I took the most direct route, which according to the information boards, would take one hour to reach. I don’t know how long it would’ve taken me to reach the summit because I veered off to explore the lava caves. That was so cool. Make sure you bring a flashlight with you. The first set of caves I encountered were too small to actually fit a person, but it was still neat to see. While I was looking about, an older couple started talking to me from above. I suggested they skip these ones since you couldn’t actually walk through them, but then they told me about the caves further ahead where you could walk through them. So off I went. Wow, that was neat. And thank goodness I brought a flashlight. So after walking through these caves, I headed back to the main track. By this time, the track was in a really nice forested area, no more black rock, but lush green forest. But it wasn’t so much the forest that got my attention but the sound of the birds and the insects. It was so loud. Once at the top, there is a Crater summit track which I decided to do as well. These were all well formed tracks, definitely well worn. Their marker system could be better, but really there was no way that a person could get lost. After walking around the summit, it was time to head back to the wharf. It probably would’ve taken me about thirty minutes, if I had stuck with the main route, but on my way down, I veered off again and headed to the Kidney Fern walk. According to the map, the walk would’ve taken me passed the Prison Barracks Remnants, however the forest was so thick and dense that I didn’t even see it. The map labelled these tracks to be moderate grade. I would have to agree. It was a nice hike/walk, a very good half day affair. It was good to get my hiking boots back on and actually go out and about. In total, I hiked for two and a half hours. I got off the ferry just before 10am and was back to the wharf by 12:30pm, just in time to catch the 12:45 ferry back to Devonport. I could’ve stayed on the ferry and kept on going to Auckland, but since I knew I would have future days in Auckland, I decided to take it easy and hang out in Devonport.
In the village, it was time to find a place to eat. I went to the Stone Oven Bakery and Cafe. A salad and mini vegetarian frittata set me back $10 NZD. That’s not too bad. And they had free internet too. Nice. It was a busy cafe. The service was good and the people friendly. The seating was comfortable and it was clean. It’s a place I would definitely go back to, if I ever return to Devonport. After lunch it was time to do a little retail therapy. On day 1 when I had walked into Devonport, I noticed a NZ Postal outlet. I knew exactly what I wanted. Hobbit stamps! My sisters and I are huge fans, hence my trip, but my sisters are even bigger fans than me, so of course I was instructed to bring back the stamps! Once again, the service was good and the people super helpful, not something I expected in a postal outlet. After my retail therapy had been fulfilled for the day, it was time to head back to Takapuna and get cleaned up. I was going to meet the rest of my tour group for dinner that night at the hotel. So back to the bus stop and back to the hotel. One other thing that I can check off my list of things to see/eat/do: I have now eaten pavlova. Tasty, and seriously sugary sweet. Thank goodness I hiked Rangitoto Island that morning.
I’ll try to get pictures for the next post or I’ll update the post with pics. I’ll let you know. Right now I’m running out of MB to use. And there’s so much I want to show you!
Lots of luv to all, Aunty