Hike the Summit Track on Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto Island Ferry Terminal (Auckland), Auckland, New Zealand

  • Activities:

    Photography, Swimming, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    2.4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    850 Feet

Swimming Hole

Take the ferry from Auckland's downtown and spend the day exploring the city's most iconic volcano!

Starting from the Auckland Ferry Terminal (-36.842505, 174.767258), jump on the Fullers Ferry to Rangitoto Island (-36.786279, 174.858345). A short, beautiful 30-minute ride through the city's harbor will end at the island's wharf. 

Rangitoto is a volcano, the youngest and largest in the Auckland volcanic field. It is also home to the largest forest of Pōhutukawa trees in the world. According to Maori legend, children of the Fire Gods cursed Mahuika, the fire-goddess, and they lost their home on the mainland because it was destroyed by Mataoho, god of earthquakes and eruptions, on Mahuika's behalf. Lake Pupuke on the North Shore was created in the destruction, while Rangitoto rose from the sea. The mists surrounding Rangitoto at certain times are considered the tears of the Tupua for their former home. 

Once at Rangitoto Wharf, follow the well-marked DOC signs pointing towards the Summit Track. The Summit Track is the most popular of the Rangitoto Walks, beginning at the wharf, winding through the island's lava fields and native forest up to the summit peak. The views at the top are outstanding, offering panoramic views of Auckland, outlying islands, and the Hauraki Gulf.

A worthwhile detour on this trek is the intriguingly named Lava Caves Track. This is accessible midway up the Summit Track from the wharf. The short, well-signposted diversion leads you to the Rangitoto lava tunnels and caves. Remember your flashlight if you want to explore the abyss fully, as it gets very dark!

As you wait for the return ferry, be sure to check out the numerous historic "baches" (the name for holiday cottages in NZ, short for "bachelor") along the waterfront and take some time to enjoy watching the hustle and bustle of New Zealand's biggest city from a peaceful island in the middle of the ocean. Just do yourself a favor, don't curse the Fire Goddess.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Your favorite boots / shoes
  • Day pack
  • Snacks!
  • Raincoat 
  • Something to swim in
  • Flashlight, headlamp, or in our case bike lights (for exploring the hidden caves)
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Overall rating: 

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Definitely worth doing but the hike is fairly uneventful and the views are not nearly as good as you would expect. Check out the lava tunnels while you’re there.

about 2 months ago
about 2 months ago

I made video of my trip to Rangitoto Island, Check it out! https://youtu.be/lou0OpwwTrw

2 months ago
2 months ago

Jamie Gallant

American import to New Zealand. Co-founder of the Bureau of Explorers and supported by Western Rise™ and YETI™

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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