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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)

Transports of delight.

Being in the Hauraki Gulf, means that walking or driving to Rangitoto has never been an option. Public transport by way of ferry was one of the ways and there are stories about different boats and rival companies throughout the last century. Below is a ferry timetable for the "Blue Boats" from 1978. It is interesting to see that they visited Islington Bay every day and had a Wednesday service as well.

Blue boats timetable Rangitoto - Motuihe Ferry Service

Of course you could always have your own boat or small dinghy with seagull outboard to get you and your family across with supplies. There is a story of a family wanting fresh chickens for Xmas dinner so they put them in cages and took them across by dinghy. Apparently the chickens became thoroughly seasick!!

It is not unknown for seaplanes to have visited the island. The archive has pictures of the Sunderland flying boats in Islington Bay sheltering from Auckland's inclement weather when it made it impossible for them to tie up at Mechanics Bay.

Seaplane at Rangitoto Wharf

This photo from one our member's is without a description - does anyone know anything about this small seaplane at Rangitoto Wharf? Graeme Poole of the St Johns Ambulance also recounts the day he missed the ferry to do his duty at Islington Bay so hired Capt Fred Ladd to take him in his seaplane!

Cars on the island

Don't forget what are now the vintage cars of today were the buses, taxis, cars and trucks of the Turner family or Reg Noble and don't forget the time the Rangitoto Domain Board dignitaries visited in 1930 and drove their nine baby Austin cars from the ferry along the wharf and around the island to inspect the road when it was finished.

Bus on Rangitoto Island

There was also the need to get around the island, bicycles were used and Lois Eagles from MacKenzies Bay recalls her father 'importing' a bicycle then later using its wheels on a little wooden cart he built to hold all their luggage - with her on top- which he pulled along behind him. This inventiveness has seen all manner of wheeled contraptions made from reusing pram bodies with or without the baby part, small cart-wheels, wheelbarrows and three wheeled trolleys. Vi Leech recorded quite a number in her photo albums and below are some of them.

transporting your luggage island stylethree wheeler trolley
wheeled things