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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)

Rangitoto Ships' Graveyard

Rangitoto Island wrecks

Disposal of obsolete ships on Rangitoto

The coastlines of Hauraki Gulf islands were once used as dumping grounds for obsolete ships. With rapid changes in technology, ships quickly became outdated and uneconomic to maintain.

Nowadays, obsolete vessels can be cut up and the materials recycled, but in the past disposing of unwanted vessels was a problem. The easiest solution was to drive them ashore where they would be out of sight, and leave them to rot or rust away.

Wreck Bay and the adjacent coastline of Rangitoto is a graveyard for at least 13 ships that were dumped on the island between 1887 and 1947.

Some of the older vessels that were made of timber were burnt to the waterline. Later wrecks provided a rich resource for the island's handful of bach owners, who descended on the hulks and stripped them of fittings and timber to incorporate into their holiday homes.

Rangitoto Island wrecks

The Rangitoto hulks today

Over the years, the hulks have gradually deteriorated and been broken up by wave action. Some large pieces of wreckage remain on the foreshore, or in the intertidal zone, at Wreck Bay, Boulder Bay, and along the adjacent coastline. In many cases it is difficult to work out which ship the wreckage has come from.

These pages contain further information and pictures showing what the ships once looked like. We'll add further information, and photos of the wreckage today as it is identified:

The Rangitoto hulks are now a regionally significant heritage site and are protected by the Auckland Regional Council and Department of Conservation. Please do not remove or disturb any of the remains.

See photos of the wrecks as they appear today on Gareth Cookes Website

Rangitoto Island wrecks

Getting to the Rangitoto wrecks

  1. Take the Wreck Bay Track, which is signposted from the Islington Bay Road. The track surface is uneven and boots or good walking shoes are needed.
  2. The track finishes at Wreck Bay.
  3. Boulder Bay is the next bay to the northwest/left.

There is an on-site information panel at Wreck Bay. The wrecks are best visited at low tide. The deeper wreckage just offshore attracts a variety of fish and other marine life and can be appreciated by snorkelling or scuba diving.

Please enjoy your visit, but do not disturb, damage or remove any part of the site.

This information is from the Auckland Regional Council website and more information on the individual shipwrecks is here>>

Rangitoto Island wrecks
Rangitoto Island wrecks
Rangitoto Island wrecks
Rangitoto Island wrecks