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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)

Story pages ( 1 l 2 l 3 l 4 )

A love letter home from Rangitoto Island - May 1994

Hi there bun, it's five minutes to nine, and it's lovely and peaceful, we've got lots of candlelight, and a radio, we've been listening to BFM and ther's been some pretty weird songs, but it all blends in with the furniture, and the mood.

All day, I've been wishing I could share everything with you, you could walk around all the neat places here with me, and I'd point out something I thought was particularly quirky, and you could smile at me and say "Yes Bunny". We went on the ferry, and it was really flash, and it had a bar, but I didn't even feel thirsty, cosI was too busy watching the buildings getting smaller and Rangitoto getting bigger.

Andy is sitting across the room from me whittling his pig stick by candlelight. I'll have to tell you about his pig stick, well, today we went out scavenging on the cool lava rocks just out in front of the bach, and along the way finding lots of neat stuff. We found stuff like a dolls shoe, and an O ring set for diesel engines, and even a message in a bottle which said to write to a girl in Birkdale for a pen-pal . . . well Andy found a stick which is really thick bamboo, all sculpted by the sea like driftwood, with a perfect 'hoof'on one end like a pig's and a flat round end with with two holes in it which is identical to a pigs snout, thus it be called a pig stick.

We talk about you lots, and I said if you were here too, we'd probably be scavenging for ages cos you'd want to find pig-stick too, since Andy had one. I wish you were here to find one with us.

Bec's making more patchwork cushions next to me, by candlelight too. We found lots of groovy baches, and took photos toay. You'd love it, they're really quaint - like one around the corner, with china pressed into a patch of concrete saying "Rangitoto - Beach Combers Paradise" and pictures of wallaby's, and donkeys drawn all over the house, all aqua and pink and yellow, and toilets and rooms, and sheds hidden in holes in the rocky crust, which looks like it's still oozing from the volcanoes mouth.

Now there's Mutton Birds on the radio, and it's so still, I think we're the only ones on the island tonight but I can almost feel the bubbling mountain underneath us, and the piwakawaka's are sleeping in the tree's outside, hiding from the rain. They all flew around me today, eeking at me, and daring me to rustle up the leaves on the ground to find some grubs to eat. There's lovely damp bush all around here, and a thick layer of leaves on the ground, so that the scoria doesn't hurt your feet.

There's something special about the ay people have made their houses and paths on this island, it's all so solid and hard that the buildings have had to creep into nooks and crannys, and pathways are wonderfully sympathetic to the shoreline, I think the prisoners from jail made them, and it would have been a pretty mean sentence because they would never have been able to enjoy them like they are now, all covered in moss and windy, curvy, silky, twisty. We had twisties for breakfast on the Sea-Flyte, salty spray and corn snacks hmmmmm.

There's mangroves too, gooey toffee mud with bear pit sticks and shiny open leaves. Everything's very reflective and sharp out the front, and deep and wide behind us - all the baches are on the very edge of the sea, and people have concrete boat ramps to the rocks, and stacked rocks all around the outside.

The rain is hitting us on the side now, sort of whipping past us quickly, rather than falling down. Probably because we are sort of perched in the middle of the gulf. It feels very vulnerable.
Bec is being engulfed by the big couch we're on - a big carpetish covered roundish oldish warmish hard couch. The type that looks like a Bedford or a moulded jelly, and she just did a wry smile which made her look like Charlotte. Andy put the flash in his mouth and it lit up like a tail-light.

It's funny bunny cos there's no you, and no Zucchini the dog to lick spaghetti sauce off the floor. I made spaghetti bolognese, Andy had a T.V. Dinner plate, with seperate food compartments, and a circle to hold your cup in, but it was hard to clean. We decided we had to eat our spaghetti without any arms, so we had sauce all over our faces, and anyone looking in the windows would have thought we were a family of tholidomides.

Andy made a cigar from washed-up tobacco and a k-bar wrapper, now he's making milos. It's bedtime now, We just went out to the loo, it's lovely . . . tons of stars and 2-ply toilet tissue . . . heavenly. I hope no wallabies fall down the long drop. I was gazing up, thinking how lovely it was that trees don't feel the cold when a big fat drip went down my cleavage.

We're all tucked up in our little beds now, and Andy looks like a pixie in his stripy polypropelene super suit. We've got Kinder Surprises, one each, and it feels like Christmas. We'll open them shortly, and keep you updated cries of exclamation or sobs of despair . . . ha ha ha Andy got a stupid metal indian, and I got a bloody budget bastardish jumping jerking-off guitar.
Good morning all and one - it's Thursday morning and I just woke up and I haven't had a chance to stretch all of my muscles yet. Andy is making us breakfast in bed - yummy goody mmmm.

I just opened the curtain by my bed, there's a little window seat and the sea's only about 50 metres away. It looks like it's being combed frantically sideways. When I gaze at it, I feel like I'm moving sideways away from it.
It's sunny, bright and high cos it's 10am already, a teensy spider just crawled over this page, it was cute. I can see Auckland from here, but it's just the right distance away - the catamaran is just coming in now, it's rumbling like my tummy, I thought it was a car, but that would be absurd. Peanut Butter on toast is here. The bedroom has two plastic sunflower hooks on it - like gawking eyes keeping watch.

All day has durated now, it's almost like deja-vu, the air is dark and damp, and we are all just using time restfully, sitting in the lounge on the chunky chairs. We went fishing today, late today actually, mid afternoon after we had all casually arisen and inspected the prospect of whiling another day away. Andy caught a spritely little fish, all silvery and fine with a transparent mouth. The wind was pummeling us on the wharf, and we had a group of asians inspect us as they waited for their ferry to fairy them away. I didn't catch anything, but at least my expectations were equally non-existent.

It was fitfully sunny and gusty all day, a day spent making it's mind up, but never really committing itself. I'm sitting outside in the big key-hole porch with many candles flickering on the speckled woodwork. Bec is gazing at her little arrangement of candles and sticks - there's a candle lighting up her jesus sandles on the second step down. Andy's just run out of film, he's down on the bottom step trying to capture the movement of a candle with an open shutter speed.

BFM is pumping out the homeboy hour, fluidly merging in with the beat of ocean on rocks. Out in front of me is the lights of Auckland city - all spreadeagled on the darkness of the lands silhouette. There's really interesting lights and shapes, viewing it from here, a tacky knot of Christmas lights making up an ever-reaching constellation. Bec is making a shrine to cast off pohutukawa branches, lit up by slowly gasping swaying candles. The bottom step disappeared now - swallowed up by a void as the night triumphed over the candles light.

Andy reckons the weather is doing a heavy duty spin-cycle through the trees, rinse and spin. Milo Time. You should see Andy's Pig Stick now, it's a mighty sight, all trussed up, and buffed up and bound with dangly bits. Bec reckons the blue part of the flame is the hottest.

Corn toasties for lunch. The day is being gulped away by the future, soon I'll have to catch the ferry back. I took some more photo's this morning, peering into peoples past perogitives, capturing their quirks, and it was fascinating. I really appreciate everything people have left here - it's mostly non-intrusive. I wrote a reply to the mesaage in the bottle person, I must remember to post it on and carry on the dream.

Powering away from the island on the ferry, and waving adieu to Bec and Andy on the pier, was something lie a farewell scene from an old movie. At least I was sailing away from the sunset, and not into it. It was still a rush to feel the boat skimming across the sea, and it felt like I was going through some sort of time warp, as it got dark while I was on board, and when I got off , I was in an ugly city and each breath I took filled my lungs with rancid fumes, and the smell of a thousand strangers. I thought I could hear the earth wailing under the weight of the concrete. Then again, perhaps it was just a police car.
Melanie Stevenson

Story pages ( 1 l 2 l 3 l 4 )