One of the delights of writing my books is the excuse it gives for visiting interesting places. I hadn't been to Rangitoto Island for many years, but when a character decided to go on an outing there in my work-in-progress, I decided it was high time I paid the island a visit.
Rangitoto Island is a familiar sight to anyone who's visited Auckland. The island is roughly circular, so it looks the same from all directions. It's a relatively young volcano, last erupting a mere 500 or so years ago.
We took the ferry over one morning, and set out to climb to the 260-metre (850 feet) summit.
The dominant species of Rangitoto's forest cover is pohutukawa, sometimes called the New Zealand Christmas Tree for its profusion of red flowers at Christmastime (we were there just a little too early for its flowering). Pohutukawa and other species are gradually covering the island, especially since the major pest eradication of recent decades, but there are still large areas of bare lava flow:
Those fields of jagged lava make it all the more impressive to see how vegetation takes hold, survives, and eventually thrives in this challenging environment.
Looking into the crater from the summit:
We walked around the crater, with fine views in all directions:
On our descent, we took a short detour to the lava caves. These were formed when the outside of lava flows cooled while the contents kept moving, leaving hollow tubes:
We made a more leisurely day of this lovely outing than the energetic young visitors of my work-in-progress, but enjoyed it just as much as they did.