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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 38 Before and After

A humble kiwi bach on Rangitoto Island has made the big league by winning an international award for heritage conservation – a first for New Zealand.

The restoration of ‘Bach 38’ in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf shares an Honourable Mention in this year’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards with large projects including a palace in India, a performing arts centre in Hong Kong and a canal community in Thailand.

The wooden bach was built in 1928 for the first caretaker appointed in 1911, Mr Pooley, on his retirement. It took four years to restore and gives visitors a glimpse of bach holidays from the 1930s to the 1960s.

“Volunteers carried out this labour of love under the guidance of conservation architects and professional builders. It is an enormous honour to have the value of our work internationally recognised,” says Susan Yoffe of the Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust. 

UNESCO received 45 entries from 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The top awards of Excellence went to Herat Old City in Afghanistan, and Stadium Merdeka in Malaysia.

Bach 38

The judges commented the restoration of the bach had conserved “a unique historic building typology… The community grassroots effort in accomplishing the project is to be praised”.

Susan Yoffe says the award puts the unassuming kiwi bach on the world stage and recognises the importance of bach settlements in New Zealand’s architectural and social history. 

“Bach communities represented the kiwi values of independence and self-reliance. Activities were family oriented, centred on co-operation and fun. As water side land values escalate holiday home developments are replacing these communities.  Being so close to Auckland City, the baches on Rangitoto are an ideal place to see a little of our past.

“The Trust was formed in 1997 to retain, restore and interpret the baches left on the island. We adapted Bach 38 into a museum and information centre to offer visitors a glimpse into bach life, histories of individual baches and historical photographs,” she says.

The Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Judith Tizard, will announce the award at the launch of the Auckland Heritage Festival at Auckland Museum, 6pm on Thursday 18 September.

For more information contact:

Liz Andrew,
Trust Chair: 09 634 1398

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Bach 38


2008 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards
A jury of twelve international conservation experts gave 17 awards out of 45 entries. The conservation project submissions included hotels, cultural and public institutions, religious sites, residential buildings and urban district from 13 countries in the region.
UNESCO:  Elizabeth Rose  04 473 5523

Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust
The Trust was formed in 1997 as a result of the Department of Conservation’s decision that only three baches should remain on the island.  The leaseholders and other concerned people – including Auckland City Heritage Division – wanted to explore ways to save and restore the remaining baches.
Bach 38 was opened in April 2005 and a second Bach 114 at Islington Bay is currently nearing completion. The Trust is supported by Department of Conservation, the Auckland City Council Heritage Division, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, and the financial sponsorship of AMP
Auckland City Council:  George Farrant 09 3077498

Trust Spokesperson, Susan Yoffe
Susan’s involvement with heritage began in 1993 with research for her social anthropology MA into the ‘holiday communities’ that formed each year in two areas on Rangitoto Island.  She has since worked as a contract heritage researcher for conservation architects, local authorities, NZ Historic Places Trust, Department of Conservation and Auckland Regional Council. As well as the Trust Susan has been on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Auckland Branch Committee for ten years, was a founding member of Devonport Heritage Inc. and has recently been appointed Trustee of the North Shore Heritage Trust.

Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust