Rangitoto Island

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

For some reason, I wanted to have a few days in Auckland before venturing over to Waiheke Island. It was a 3 day weekend for all the locals, so Waiheke would have been a bit chaotic because of all the day trippers. So I thought it best to go across on the Monday, and spend some time getting organised beforehand (journal, washing, planning for Sydney etc).

One thing that has been on my 'to do' list for some time is a trip to Rangitoto Island, just a 20 minute boat ride from Auckland. It's a volcanic island with good walkways, and since it's been 600 years since Rangitoto last erupted, I figured it was safe to visit.

I paid for a return ticket (obviously) at Fuller's office by the harbour, and enjoyed a relaxing cruise over to the island...despite being joined on board by a huge group of school children. It is still the school holidays over here, so it was quite busy, but I didn't hang around on arrival and set off on the hour long walk to the summit. It was lovely and peaceful, and as it was a clear day I was treated to some great views of Auckland.

As well as a vast number of trees, the island is characterised by the black volcanic rock that is spread all over. It reminded me of visiting Mt Teide in Tenerife, many years ago, and I couldn't help but think what it would have been like during an eruption. Certainly, the Maoris witnessed the eruptions as footprints have been found, embedded in the ash.

There was just one other guy at the summit when I made it there, and I had to take a couple of photographs as you could see for miles. Unfortunately, I clumsily dropped my camera (again) adding to the list of incidents that have caused it to be nearing the end of its shelf life now. If it lasts until the 28th February, then I'll definitely have got my (dad's) money's worth!

When I heard voices approaching from behind, I embarked on the crater rim walk before it got too crowded. It was nice being ahead of the pack, and I lost them completely when I decided to return to the wharf via a much longer, 3 hour track that explored the western part of the island. I don't think many people choose to do this, as I barely saw anyone else during that time.

I had lots of time to spare because the boat didn't leave until 3.30pm, so I had plenty of stops along the way, my favourite one being at McKenzie Bay as it was so isolated and devoid of people. It was very hot though, so I was thankful of the breeze that came in the afternoon, and back at the wharf I relaxed for an hour until the boat arrived.

It had been a pleasant day out, and it had only cost me $20. I was pleased that I'd got the chance to do it, and especially on such a nice day. I was now ready for a relaxing weekend...

Back at the hostel, I was staying in a dorm with 3 other guys who were all spot on. I palled up with an American called Brett, and we ended up going to Denny's one of the mornings for a huge breakfast. I'd never heard of this chain before, but my bacon, eggs, sausages and pancakes were great value for money. I was ready for a nap afterwards though!

All in all, nothing really major happened over the weekend, although I did get a surprise walking down Queen Street on Sunday afternoon. I was daydreaming and listening to my music, when someone shouted "Richard" and tapped me on the shoulder. It was Mel and Olivier, the French couple who had been running Shortbread Cottage in Nelson, and it was great to see them as I didn't get the chance to say goodbye when I last visited with Mum and Stu. It was a brief exchange as they were on their way to the train station, before leaving for Hong Kong the next day, but it was nice to see a couple of familiar faces again.

I spent a fair bit of time in the library getting up to date with my journal and reading a book about teaching abroad. I also researched the subject a bit more on the internet, and realised that it is quite difficult finding work in Japan until the hiring season begins in February. A little disappointed, my spirits picked up when I saw some opportunities for volunteer work in places such as Cambodia, Peru and South Africa. The thought of doing that for a couple of months later in the year really appeals...

In the meantime, I had a 5 day 'wind down' trip to Waiheke to focus on. All I wanted to do was relax on the beach, enjoy a few beers, and reflect on what a great time I've had in New Zealand. It feels strange, only having a handful of days left here, but I don't have any regrets about what I've done or not done, which is definitely the main thing...
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