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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)

Bach Life on Rangitoto Island.

kettle on the burner

Rangitoto has never enjoyed facilities found on the main land - water reticulation, sewerage or electricity. Domestic arrangements in the baches were, and still are basic.

Water from roofs is stored in tanks and accessed by a single tap. Cooking was either done outside on a fire or later on coal ranges. Some inventive solutions were found to keep food fresh and away from ants. Safes were hung in trees or stood in cans of water and covered with wet sacks.

Despite these conditions cakes and scones were baked, and roast meals served on Sundays. Fish was constantly on the menu - fresh and smoked. Men's leisure time was spent fishing. There were plenty of snapper to be had in those days. Children fished with their fathers, learning boating skills. With their friends they swam, explored the bush and collected driftwood for the kitchen fire.

Community Life.

Co-operation, friendship and fellowship are a theme that runs throughout the stories of bach families. Building slipways, boatsheds and excavating a hole for the longdrop or flattening out an outdoor area was heavy work. The men helped each other. Evenings in each other's baches were spent around the Tilly lamp playing cards or having a singsong.

Christmas and New Year celebrations involved the whole community. Participation in the fancy dress competitions, novelty races, bonfire night, decorated boat flotillas, dinghy and swimming races was always keen. At Rangitoto Wharf the New Year's Day fishing competition attracted fierce rivalry - the prize was a pennant made by the previous year's winner.

A fancy dress paradeCommunity projects, which involved raising money and voluntary work, were undertaken. Prisoners from Mt Eden built the swimming pool at Rangitoto Wharf and the Hall at Islington Bay, with input from the bachholders. Children's playgrounds, tennis courts and St. John's Ambulance huts were all provided by funds raised by the communities. The Islington Bay hall, originally a tennis pavilion became the centre for community social activities. Saturday night dances were popular during summer. It was the venue for the Bowling Club and Shack Holders Association meetings.