Auckland was our first New Zealand experience – a fantastic city, jam-packed with kid-friendly activities, but what we really wanted to see were the islands off the coast. Keep reading to find out more about visiting Rangitoto with kids.
We were a tad unlucky and had terrible weather for the duration of our stay, so only managed to visit one of them during this visit, but I wanted to share with you why I think that the volcanic island of Rangitoto is a must-see for kids.
WHY CHOOSE RANGITOTO
Rangitoto is one of the most famous of all of Auckland’s 48 islands – you’ll find the largest pohutukawa forest in the world. This fairly young island, (it is only 600 years old) is great for children, with a 4WD trail ready to take them on an adventure; a fun and not too demanding hike up to the island’s summit, and the lava caves which you can explore (bring a torch).
HOW TO GET TO RANGITOTO
- Catch the ferry at the Downtown Aucklands Ferry Terminal
- The island is a cushy 25 minutes’ ferry ride away from Auckland, perfect for an easy day out.
- Cost: NZ$30 pp (under 5s go free)
WHAT DID WE DO ON THE ISLAND?
From the moment you board your ferry, you can see how the whole experience is suitable for families. You can either explore Rangitoto on your own, walking through lava crops and heavy bush, and hiking up the summit (do it!) or you can take advantage of the 4WD train that takes you on a tour all around the island.
The tour guide was brilliant, full of funny facts and in a remarkable good mood, especially considering the harsh weather conditions surrounding us – it was bucketing down all day!
TIP: There are no shops on the island, so make sure you bring enough snacks and drinks to last you the day.
My four year old of course loved the idea of the train, especially considering it was raining cats and dogs, and we would’ve been drenched in minutes otherwise. Luckily for us, the rain slowed down as we exited the train to walk up to the island’s summit, leaving a rich, earthy smell in the air. The hike up to the summit is very easygoing, with a wooden path and steps that take you all the way to the top. The 360 degree views over Auckland are absolutely spectacular. If it’s this beautiful on a grey, drizzly day I can only imagine what it must be like with a clear sky.
Though slightly wet from the continuous rain, when we re-joined the train our guide advised that there was a bit of time to see a nearby beach if we were interested – of course we jumped at the idea. With only 30 minutes to explore, we made a quick dash to the beach, climbed carefully over the sharp lava rocks and soaked-up the views once again – just stunning. As always, my son managed to get his shoes wet while having a dare with the sea! Not a problem, this is New Zealand, and the fact that we’re here is amazing on its own!
When the tour finished, we had another 45 minutes left to explore the island before our ferry left back to Auckland, which would’ve been wonderful had it not been for the rain. So the boys waited with the other families and school children in the sheltered area, and I went to snap a few more photos of the immediate area.
Wandering round Rangitoto you occasionally see some charming little huts – these were holiday homes built by Auckland families who would spend their summers here. No new huts can be built now as the island is protected, and the old ones have to stay in the family and not be sold on. Gradually they’re being dismantled as people decide they don’t want to pay for the upkeep but a few have been restored, and there is one just near the jetty that is like a window into New Zealand’s past, filled with vintage furnishings and trinkets.
It was a cold, grey day, but thanks to Rangitoto’s uniqueness and beauty we had a truly enjoyable day, full of adventure, great views and a wet sock or two!
If you’d like to find out what else there is to do in Auckland with kids, this website is packed with ideas.
HURRAH! I’M HUMBLED AND OVER THE MOON THAT I’VE BEEN NOMINATED FOR BOTH THE MADS AND BIBs ON SEPARATE CATEGORIES! I’D LOVE YOUR VOTE, IF YOU HAVE A SPARE MOMENT.