Rangitoto Island

Meaning "blood red sky"

Originally called Te Rangi i totongia a Tamatekapua, "the day the blood of Tamatekapua was shed", it is traditionally linked with a fight between Tamatekapua and Hoturoa, the commanders of the Arawa and Tainui canoes respectively when Tamatekapua was injured.

Of all of Auckland's volcanoes, Rangitoto Island is the youngest and also the largest of the total of 48. Approximately 600 years ago Rangitoto was formed and the eruption was witnessed by the Maori population then living on the nearby island Motutapu Island.

The eruption first began below water level in the Hauraki Gulf and over several months the island slowly became visible above the sea level. The eruptions lasted for about 12 months. The island is fairly unique in that it is quite symmetrical in shape and is a local "icon" to Aucklanders.

The top of Rangitoto is a splendid vantage point for 360 degree views of Auckland. The steep sided cone at the top of Rangitoto with its 60m deep crater provides this marvellous plateform after a 60 minute stroll along the well formed roads below. The roading was formed during the 1920's - 40's when prison and Army labour was used.

During the early 1900's the island's northeastern coast was used as a graveyard for old sailing vessels and later the timbers were used to construct baches around the coast. The baches are now no longer allowed to be constructed. Baches are a unique building structure to New Zealand.

Botanically, Rangitoto is unique in New Zealand, with trees growing directly out of basaltic lava. The island is covered in pohutukawa trees, which are regarded as the New Zealand Christmas tree.

The most common bush birds are insect feeders, such as fantail, grey warbler, silvereye and shinning cuckoo (Sept-April), which lay its eggs in grey warbler nests. Tui are obvious in the summer when feeding on pohutukawa flowers. On the low, rocky coastal flats there are black-backed gull breeding colonies.

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