Rangitoto Island Track and Summit Walk

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We did the Rangitoto Island Track walk to the summit which is longer via Mackenzie Bay.

It’s an easy 4 hour walk to the top of the volcano. If you just want to walk straight up to the summit of Rangitoto Island, it’s only 3.1k and will take 1 hour one way from the ferry wharf. Worth the effort for the stunning views of Auckland.

If you can’t be bothered walking to the summit, don’t worry you can take a 4 wheel drive road train! Sit back and relax while you get transported around and up to the summit of Rangitoto Island with a tour guide. You’ll take the ferry from Auckland to Rangitoto Island for a guided tour on a 4×4 road train to the summit.

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Quick Facts about this walk

  • Location: Auckland
  • Distance: 11.70 kms
  • Time needed: 4 Hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Wheelchair Access: No
  • Route: Round Trip
  • Elevation: 260m
  • Wet Feet: No
  • Toilets: Yes
  • Dogs: No
  • Mobile Coverage: Yes
  • Last Updated: November, 2019

We’ve partnered with Macpac outdoor walking & hiking gear to bring you the very best products designed exclusively for our New Zealand climate. They’ll ship for FREE within NZ on orders over $100 (if under $100 it’s only $5). Worldwide international shipping is available except to the USA. Bulky orders will be $20.

Summary points about this walk

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Points of interest along the walk​

Point 1: Catch the ferry to Rangitoto Island for the start of the walk

You’ll need to catch the ferry from downtown Auckland to Rangitoto Island. There are plenty everyday, it doesn’t take long. From Rangitoto wharf to Mackenzie Bay will take you 1.30 hours. It’s an easy walk along a flat well graveled road to Mackenzie Bay. Start the walk from the very end of the wharf, walk 50m past the shelter with the toilets on your left hand side. This track runs off to Mackenzie Bay. So long as you keep as close to the water edge you can’t go wrong.

Point 2: Original old holiday bachs

For the next 20 minutes, you will see the original old bachs concealed in the trees. Tracks also lead out to other old bachs and private bays, but most of the bachs have now been removed. All that remains of the holiday bachs are the concrete foundation and steps leading to the front door and the odd piece of rubbish. You can catch a glimpse of Auckland city 3 kms to the west which makes a change from looking at the long black volcanic rock.

Point 3: Side tracks to hidden little bays

There are a number of tracks running off to the left. A couple will be footpaths leading to removed batches and the other half will lead you to small bays. Most of the beaches will be made of volcanic rock, with small patches of grass. Very pretty.

Point 4: Arrive at Mackenzie Bay

Five minutes before Mackenzie Bay on your right is the turnoff to the summit of Rangitoto Island. Mackenzie Bay is a great place to stop for a picnic and to use the toilets. From the bay looking east, you can just see the north shore town of Takapuna 5 ks away. On a fine day, the brave people in their sea kayaks will paddle over to Mackenzie Bay for a quick lunch then paddle back for a coffee at one of the many cafes on Takapuna beach. We had the beach to ourselves. The billy was on the boil, the sun was out, who needs Takapuna beach!

For those who would love to kayak over to Rangitoto Island then walk to the summit, do the Sea Kayak & Summit Hike Day Trip here. You’ll love this one for sure, what a great way to get there.

Point 5: Turn off to Rangitoto Island Summit

Only 1 hour 20 minutes to the top. From the beach, back track to the turn off you past 10 minutes before reaching Mackenzie Bay, turn to the left and walk up to the next junction. There is not a lot to see till you reach the turn off, just rocks and more rocks. At the turn off there is a toilet there for you to use. You will be returning to this turnoff on the way back to the wharf. Take the road to the right, which runs up hill all the way to the very top of Rangitoto Island volcano. Or take the step aerobics to the top. The steps will give you greater views of Motutapu Island and the greater Hauraki Gulf, plus it is a lot easier on the legs and quicker.

Point 6: Summit of Rangitoto Island & volcano crater

At the summit of Rangitoto Island, take a seat and enjoy the view of Auckland city 10.7 ks to the southwest and 11.1 ks east out to Waiheke Island. Don’t worry if Auckland shows you its true colours and rains, there is a WW2 shelter close by to run too.  After the rain, take a short 700m walk around the volcano crater before the downhill run to the wharf.

Point 7: Rangitoto Island Walk – Detour to Lava Caves

Lava caves track detour

A 15-minute diversion (one-way) from the Rangitoto Island Summit Track leads to lava tunnels and caves that you can explore.

If you are running out of time, take the track from the look out at the top straight down to the wharf, about 1 hour. For this walk, we will double back to the turn off in section 5. At the turn off, turn to the right and walk down hill for 15 minutes. On a left hand corner, look for the sign to the caves on the right. 25 minutes to the caves. This section of the walk is very refreshing. A sudden change from the volcanic rock roads to green native coastal bush. The track to the caves is easy to follow, it winds its way over small rocky ridges and gullies. In some places the rocks are quite tricky to walk over, so take it easy on your ankles. The entrance to the main caves is just large enough to let a small child crawl though; I was left with the small rift over to the right. These tunnels were very short, so I had no need for a torch, just watch out for the low hanging rocks, they have very sharp edges, I have the scar to prove it.

Point 8: Rangitoto Island Walk – Back to the wharf

40 minutes back to the wharf. When you have finished looking at the caves, just keep walking along the track to the next junction. There are signs there to help you out. Turn left and walk down hill to the wharf. The last 20 minutes of the walk is back on volcanic rock.

Point 9: Rangitoto Island tour by 4 wheel drive road train to summit

It is a bit of a hike to the summit of Rangitoto Island and not everyone can walk it, especially in the heat of summer, it’s really hot there. Fortunately there is now a very cool 4 wheel drive road train that will drive you around Rangitoto Island while a tour guide tells you all about the history along the way. The journey goes to the lava caves and the summit of Rangitoto Island for stunning views across to Auckland city. This tour will leave from Auckland and includes the ferry to Rangitoto Island then a guided 4×4 road-train tour to the summit.

Point 10: No time to visit Rangitoto Island? Take a seaplane instead.

Rangitoto Island is a very special and interesting place with real lava flows and a volcano crater, it would be a shame to miss seeing this while you’re in Auckland. By taking a seaplane you’ll see breathtaking views of the city, beaches and soar 200 meters above the summit of Rangitoto Island’s volcanic crater. You’ll take off and land from the water – how cool is that. The Rangitoto Island and Auckland City Scenic Seaplane Flight is 40 minutes and you can book it by clicking on this link.




What sort of walking and hiking gear will you need

We’ve partnered with Macpac outdoor walking & hiking gear to bring you the very best products designed exclusively for our New Zealand climate. They’ll ship for FREE within NZ on orders over $100 (if under $100 it’s only $5). Worldwide international shipping is available except to the USA. Bulky orders will be $20.

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