My friend James is in the territorials (New Zealand’s volunteer army) and has been away in the Solomon Islands for a while, doing good peace keeping work there. Out of the blue on Friday, I got a text message from him asking me to go see a movie. The movie was a little lacklustre (10,000 BC, don’t watch it), but the company was excellent: I met up with both James and V (Viren), friends from uni that I haven’t seen in ages. After the movie, they invited me to go with them for a “tramp” up Rangitoto Island.
Now, perhaps some explanation is in order. In New Zealand, a “tramp” is a hike or a walk, typically up a mountain path, since volcanic mountains are so plentiful here. Rangitoto is one such mountain. It rises up out of the Auckland harbour, a perfect cone. It’s the most recent volcano in Auckland, being a relatively young 600 years old. I packed a few sandwiches, chips, bier-sticks, muesli bars, an enormous bottle of water and 5 little bottles of champagne for consumption on the summit. There were five of us on the ferry over to the island: James, V, Rick, Michael and myself. It was a beautiful New Zealand summer day, which is strange, because just a week previously it had been raining and it looked as though summer had fled for good.
The walk up was a relatively easy one. Though I complained exaggeratedly near the last leg (which gets kind of steep) it was only a 45 minute walk at a reasonable pace. All around us, the foliage was starting to take shape after 600 years of erosion had turned some of the hard black volcanic rock into fertile black sand. It will probably take another 600 years before the island can truly support all forms of vegetation. Until then, large swathes of black rock open up scars in the greenery, revealing a glimpse of blue sea and sky in the background. The effect is a rather breathtaking layering of colour and texture. We had our little picnic on top of the bunker that crests the summit of the mountain, the highest mountain in Auckland, and I managed to get this rather nifty 360 degree panoramic view of the whole scenery.
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then I don’t have much more to say than that. You can see more images of the hike here: Rangitoto HikeÂ
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