Playing Guitar on a Volcano

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Monday, November 1, 2004

Today was the day I had been waiting for. The weather was beautiful - a real scorcher, and perfect for climbing a volcano. The one in question was 'Rangitoto Island', New Zealands youngest. It last erupted 600 years ago from beneath the sea - pretty impressive. I had seen it many times looming in the distance from various areas of the city and had also admired its magnificence from the top of the Skytower, so I was very keen to visit.

I was accompanied by Young Neil who had actually been a few weeks before but was just as keen to visit again - especially as we had agreed last night to climb Rangi 'with a twist'.

We met on the corner of Fort Street just before 9am with our guitars. After getting some supplies (a couple of sandwiches and lots of water) we took the short ferry ride past Devonport and across to Rangitoto.

The trek up was quite enjoyable actually. We took our time, stopping a couple of times on the way up for a breather and to look back at the view of Auckland and its surrounding areas in the distance. It's amazing how much you ascend in quite a short space of time without actually realising it. The route was fairly steep in parts and nicely varied, just felt a little odd with a guitar pulling down on one hand. I grinned to myself now and again every time Young Neil cleared his throat and swapped hands - mine was starting to stretch the old fingers too.

In the two hours it took us to get to the summit, we had stopped a few times, took some pics and met some of the other visitors. The scenery looking out and the landscape of the volcano itself was beautiful. About half an hour from the top, we stopped to explore the lava caves. They were more or less in complete darkness and very damp, so it was very easy to fall or twist an ankle. There were a couple of funny moments, and the odd swear word but nothing serious.

The view from the summit was superb. It gave a very different and interesting view of the Auckland cityscape and the harbour bridge and spectacular views of the Motutapu and Waiheke Islands. So after a well earned lunch we had a good couple of hours chilling out in the sun, playing peacefully admiring the beautiful views.

After a stroll around the crater rim, we headed back down a different route and made it back just in time to catch the last ferry at 5pm. What a long day!

I've gotta say though, the sun here is very fierce, and I mean FIERCE. It's completely different to anything I've seen before. Apparently, it's to do with 'the hole' or the ozone layer (or lack of it). I'm unsure as to whether this is entirely correct, but from what I understand 'the hole' that we know so much about, pretty much sits over New Zealand and Antarctica, making the sun a lot more dangerous. It really is fierce here and can have nasty consequences. They say that at peak sunning hours, the burn time is around seven minutes. I've been caught a few times myself and it's quite an eye-opener!

Well towards the end of the day, Young Neil was looking quite raw. He's got very fair skin anyway so that wasn't going to help. By the time we stepped off deck and back on to Auckland shores, he was looking like he'd had a bloody good smack. I'll be very interested to see how he is tonight and tomorrow!
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