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Welcome to Rangitoto Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

The youngest of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf, Rangitoto emerged from the sea around 700 years ago in a series of volcanic explosions. Rising to a height of 260 metres the circular island presents the same uniform appearance and is visible from most parts of the mainland. Rangitoto's name has been translated to mean the day the blood of Tamatekapua was shed, relating to a major Maori battle at Islington Bay about 1350. Rangitoto is an icon of Auckland city.

Situated about 8 km northeast of Auckland and connected to Motutapu Island by a causeway, Rangitoto is a large island of 2311 hectares with a wonderful volcanic landscape that supports over 200 species of moss, plants and trees including the largest Pohutukawa forest in the world. It was purchased by the Crown in 1854, set aside as a recreation reserve in 1890 and for over 30 years the island's volcanic scoria was quarried and shipped to Auckland. Between 1925 and 1936 prison labour built roads on the island and a track to the summit.

There are some 10 or so short and long walks around the island and from the summit there are magnificent views of the Hauraki Gulf, the Waitemata Harbour and Auckland city.

Rangitoto Islands' unique geological and natural attributes are of international interest. What is less known is that the three Bach Settlements of Rangitoto Wharf, Islington Bay and Beacon End are also of national importance.

The bach communities on Rangitoto Island were built in the 1920's and 30's and consist of private holiday dwellings and boatsheds as well as communal facilities such as paths, swimming pool, community hall and tennis courts. Built by families, using the scarce resources of the Depression era, the buildings demonstrate the 'kiwi' do-it-yourself, jack-of-all-trades attitudes of the times.

As a result of a prohibition order on further buildings in 1937, the remnants of the communities reflect this specific time in Auckland's development and as a result they are part of local history involving typical New Zealanders in a unique environment.

Because other bach communities, which were prevalent throughout the country, have virtually disappeared, the Rangitoto bach settlements are irreplaceable artefacts of New Zealand's architectural, and social history and therefore are important beyond their locality.

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Museum Bach Opening Hours

Bach 38 Museum at Rangitoto Wharf will be open by appointment
Opening times are from the first Fullers ferry of the day to the last ferry of the day.

Open other days by appointment -

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Latest Additions

Education Pages

New content added to the education pages here>>

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Rangitoto Scouts

Photos of the Scout Camps in the 1930s, 1948 and 1951 here>>

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Rangitoto Wrecks

Photos of the wrecks here>>

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Rangitoto Ramblings

The latest newsletter is available here>>

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Gareth Cooke Photos

Gareth has taken a series of photos of the Rangitoto Baches and wrecks view his online gallery here>>

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From the TVNZ Archives

A Summer Place

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Photos of Rangitoto Island submitted by the public on Flickr are here>>

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Rangitoto Island Biosecurity Standards. Find out what you need to know here>>

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The Environmental Care Code and Water Care Code can be found here>>

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New photos have been added to the galleries here>>

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Charitable Trust

The Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust is Charities Commission registered - our number is CC28141 - so all donations over $5 are tax deductible. View certificate here>>
More information on societies and trusts here>>

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Major financial sponsor
AMP Financial Services Limited

Weather for Rangitoto today
Check out what the weather is doing over the Auckland area.

Tide reports -
Check out the high and low tide
for Auckland area

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Heritage Notes
Restoration / #38 / #114
Membership / How to join
Submit / Stories & Photos
Bach 38 / Open Day Images

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Key facts about Rangitoto Island

Maori name: Rangitoto, derived from the phrase 'Te Rangi i totongia a Tamatekapua - the day the blood of Tamatekapua was shed'.

Location: Auckland City, map reference NZMS 260: R11/762888

Height: 260 m

Age: Formed about 600 years ago
(ca 1400 AD)

Volume lava: about 2,300 million cubic metres (equivalent to 468,000 Olympic sized swimming pools)

Volume tuff/ash/pyroclastics: about 19 million cubic metres (equivalent to 3,800 Olympic sized swimming pools)

Holiday Heritage.

Culture is the traditions and ways of a particular group of people and Heritage is the things we inherit from the past. How many times have you asked the question; why are you doing it this way, Johnny's mum does it differently, to be told, we always do it this way. Holidays were and are no exception.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's families would leave their homes and travel, usually by horse and cart, to their favourite holiday place. Often these places were by lakes or the sea, on a friendly farmers' field or a public ground. They would erect a tent, set up a fireplace and a much simpler lifestyle would be enjoyed until it was time to pack up and go back home to work and school.

Baches on the shore of Rangitoto IslandAs families returned to the same place each year they began to erect simple dwellings that could be left. These were one or two-roomed buildings with cooking still done outside and 'outhouse' or long drop further away. Having a building meant you could leave belongings behind and bring other things on the next trip - they started to become a home away from home. Building materials were scarce and money was tight in the early 1900's, so the buildings were often made from leftover materials and your holiday neighbours helped you put it all together. This was the beginning of the bach or crib and its holiday community.

As families returned each your and friends joined in, more building materials such as windows were scavenged, to add another room, verandah or kitchen lean to. The bach became quite sophisticated in later years with coal range, fireplace and if power was available - lights.

Children cooking cockles

Children cooking cockles they have collected
using corrugated iron and a fire.

Family life revolved around basic chores such as collecting firewood, cooking meals and socializing. Children were often left to their own devices - fishing, swimming, boating, although never too far from a watchful parent; collecting treasures from the bush or coast, or inventing games with other children - no TV or Playstation, you were up with the sun and in bed when it went down.

Children in a canoe

Children in a canoe.

As the bach communities became more stable with the same families visiting each year usually around Xmas and New Year, more organised activities were arranged, particularly for the children - swimming and dinghy races, sandcastle competitions, egg and spoon races, tug of war etc and fancy dress competitions. These usually involved using materials that were available although some of the more enterprising children bought things with them. The winners of the previous years competitions had to make the pennant or prize for the next years winner - these range from hand sewn flags to highly decorated toilet seats.

A fancy dress party

A New Year's day fancy dress competion based
around the theme of storybooks and nature.

Bach Communities such as the ones described are fast disappearing from New Zealand's coastline and lakeshores and with it the simpler times of past holidays. Adults that were children then recall the fun and freedom of the times - that it was not necessary to dress up - a bag of weekend clothes was all you needed, shoes were optional you just used what was already there. Once you had done your chores the time was yours to do as you wished, even being on your own didn't seem lonely. Does your family still have a holiday tradition or has it moved on to a more sophisticated one?

A New Years day tug-of-war competition

A New Year's day tug-of-war competition.

All the photos are from the Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust archives and show activities between 1930 and 1970.