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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 )

Blue Boat at Islington Bay, Rangitoto Island
It is with great sorrow that I read about the restoration of the few baches that are left on Rangitoto Island. They should have all been saved, and passed through the generations.  As a descendant of the Reid Family on Motutapu and spending all my weekends and holidays with my Grandparents at their home at Islington Bay, they were the last full time residents to leave the Island, I feel cheated out of being able to share the wonderful experiences available with my Nieces and Nephews, as the so called conservationists in their wisdom decided to eradicate any form of life from the island, my grandparent's home was torched exactly one year to the day after my grandfather passed away.  All I can say is that the Powers that Be were insanely jealous of the privileged few that managed to take up the challenge and forge an idyllic retreat on the island.  Although 23 years since our pure luxury was demolished I can still hear the creak of the back door when it was opened, smell the smoke from the range, hear the clock above the door ticking, smell the aroma of the boat shed, feel the water lapping around my legs as I scaled fish on the boat ramp, and the joy I felt the first time I could swim from one boat ramp to the other without a black inner tube around my waist. I can still walk around  Islington Bay and know every rock and bend in the track, Rangitoto is and always will be my home, even without somewhere to stay.
The New Years Day Races where I always came 2nd in my age group, there were only two of us. 
Oh well such sweet memories, I guess I will take these to my grave, as that is all that DOC has left my family.

Jacqui Nordstrand

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Alan Ainslie photos of Rangitoto
I was born in Singapore in 1941; not good timing. We escaped the invasion on one of the very last boats while my father, who was in the Royal Navy, remained behind.
We all ended up, by roundabout routes, living on Rangitoto. I was then about two years old, and my earliest memories are of the island.
Scanning a very old roll of film early last year revealed photos from that era - fortunate timing as we were about to visit New Zealand, my first visit since then.
We took the boat to Rangitoto on February 10th in rain, wind and low cloud. Not much of a welcome after more than 60 years! 

My wife, who's had a knee replacement, did the Volcanic Explorer tour while I walked off in the hope of finding the bach where we'd lived. There was land in the background of the old photos, probably Mototapu Island, so Islington seemed the most likely area.

The shoreline there was lava, impossible to walk on in bare feet, so possibly the remains of the swimming pool that my father had built could be found: I came upon them in a tiny cove. Round the next corner was a fence with a sign warning visitors that it was an ex-military area. Fortunately you were allowed in. The distinctive rock in the old photos, still with a tree growing on it, showed that it was clearly the right place, although nothing remained except for some corrugated iron and a few other signs of former habitation.

There wasn't much time, as there was only one more ferry that day and I was somewhat dazed (perhaps the jetlag helped) by having actually found a place that had over the years acquired an almost mythical status. I didn't notice all the details at the time, but the photos revealed several that confirmed the location.

In the photo of my brother, you can see the same two trees in the background as in the recent one. Trees live a long time, of course, but it was unexpected - places can change a lot in 60 years.

The stones lining the path and the raised beds (no doubt built by my father) can still be seen - in one photo you can identify the same large stone.

There's even a plant that seems to be the same - possibly a cordeline. It appears that we're going to be outlived by a clump of grass!
The wire netting around the beds was to keep the wallabies out.
My father was born in 1898, and it was his second world war. Rangitoto must have been one of the few times that whole family had been together, and I'm sure it had happy memories for them. Certainly, it has for me.
Oh, and the sun did come out.
Alan Ainslie


Story pages( 1 l 2 l 3 l 4 )