Dave has arrived in Auckland. Actually I arrived yesterday, but I didn’t bother taking any photos. I did meet up for dinner with Hong Yul, who I’d met at two ASWEC conferences, and we discussed life, the universe and everything.
So today, having successfully negotiated a booking with Kiwi Experience for tomorrow (you buy the ticket but you also have to tell them separately what day you’re going to use it), I departed on an unrelated day trip to Rangitoto, a volcanic island 260m high. I packed a box of strawberries acquired from The Barrow a few minutes before to keep me going, because there’s no food or water available on the island itself. This was more than sufficient, given a reasonable breakfast. It turns out that enormous milkshakes, boat trips and unpredictable weather are not the best combination for one’s well-being, but I turned out alright.
The information board at the base of Rangitoto says the climb takes an hour, which is a fairly generous estimate. I climbed it in 45 minutes, and I assume people who actually know about this sort of thing would be faster still. Coming back down was not actually much easier than going up, because much of the track is loose volcanic gravel and very akwardly-shaped rocks. The lower slopes of Rangitoto are a strange mixture of dense scrub and totally barren volcanic rock. As you approach the crater there’s a transition point where the vegetation becomes more rainforesty and the track becomes smoother and a little steeper. There are fewer large rocks laying around at the top. Perhaps the culprit is decades of tourist erosion, whereby visitors take to hurling rocks off the summit, either just because they can or because that’s the sort of thing they feel should generally be happening at the top of a volcano.
The lava caves are also worth a visit, and there’s plenty of time before the ferry comes back to do it. However, bring a torch.
Also, a note on the ferry: it’s a much more interesting trip if you stand on the top-most (unenclosed) deck, because in order to do this you have to stand at 30 degrees to perpendicular.