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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)

The Long Drop and Shower Facilities

The setup of long drops and showering at the baches on Rangitoto are unique. Quirky in how they are put together with found materials and using the good old Kiwi Do-it-yourself ingenuity.

Vi's Long Drop

The long drop is often located well away from the bach and is often the fear of many a child at having to visit it by candlelight or torch in the middle of the night, I know I used to freak-out and would rather hold-on till morning. The bach toilets vary in design and comfort, with some having lockable doors with windows to the three walls and hole in the board. A few of the long drops were built over a large cracks in the scoria that went down far enough for them to be cleaned by the high-tide waterline, but as the topsoil has slowly increased and filled in the ravines they no longer work. The long drops work well when not in constant use but after a large gathering over summer they can get rather rank. I myself enjoy sitting on the bog looking out a the pohutukawa and piwakawaka early in the morning, it is a unique experience that many people miss out on with these modern fandangled flushing toilets with their sanitary washbasins and soft 2-ply toiletpaper.

A shower with pulley

Showers on Rangitoto Island are another unique bach experience. If it is summer you can often go for a dip in the ocean to keep clean but after a few days will find that you need to wash the salty crust that builds up in your hair and skin. Many baches had the good old bucket of warm water and sponge-bath setup or kids could often be bathed in a bucket or small tub. If you really wanted to get fancy you could build an outside shower with a pully system to hoist a bucket up with warm water boiled on the stove, or a solar setup with black plastic draped across rocks to heat water which is then gravity fed into a showerhead. These shower cubicles were often made in a semi-private spot out the back with a pully on a tree or a hook to hang a bucket on, and a platform to stand on. Drainage was straight into the porous scoria. The hot water often ran out all too quickly and re-heating the water took too long to make having a shower a relaxing luxury - it was all business, but having some clean warm water on your skin after a few days (or weeks) was pleasure enough. Andy Heyward


Drop along to the Long Drop
Nature in the nude
Pooze and Weeze feeds the trees
They think it's food.
A poem written by Andy Heyward while sitting on the long drop one morning.
The creative throne of inspiration.

Long drop at Why Worry

Composting Toilets - Long Drop toilets are no longer able to be used on Rangitoto Island, so when we restore baches we have to look at replacing the ‘hole’ but in a lot of cases keep the building. The solution for this appears to be to use a composting toilet system. Landcare Research have provided advice to help us choose the right system (their new building uses composting toilets for the top two floors). Auckland City and Regional Councils have both been asked whether a composting toilet is permissible and with certain ‘load’ restraints we should be able to successfully install, use and maintain composting toilets on Rangitoto Island. The website provides a full range of toilets, home built and commercial around the world including NZ. We think the KIWIBOG will suit our needs the best as long as careful use and management procedures are put into place.

Unisex Long Drop

That deals with the solids but what about the ‘grey waste’ or kitchen and shower water? This can also have adverse effects on the Rangitoto environment so the Trust is looking at using products available at ecostore a NZ company that specialise in chemical free, plant based renewable products e.g. biodegradable plastic bags and dish wash liquid. Other Bach owners might like to consider what is going down their sink wastes and look into changing their products as well. Can only be better for ‘good ole Rangi”. July 2004 Newsletter

Mens Urinal with drainage

The Dunny by the Bush Bard, the late, Mike McGee

The Dunny

When I was just a little lad and my favourite jam was honey,
The thing that I remember most would be the old bush dunny.
It stood ten yards down the dark bush track,
Where sunlight shafts were rare
And it was old and clammy on the parts you had to bare.
You had to want to go real bad to venture down that track
And you knew that things were watching as you quickly hurried back.
If nature called at midnight, it would fill your heart with dread
And you’d thank the Lord for the pot beneath your bed.
With the Herald piled on the seat, cut in eight inch squares
A lot of folk around that make it quite an issue,
With affection at it’s best, it’s now called Bathroom Tissue.
My mind goes back to the dread that filled my soul,
Of things not yet discovered that were living down that hole.
I look back to those times again and picture that old dunny,
When I was just a little lad and my favourite jam was honey.

Longdrop at Bach 38