Catch your ferry at downtown Auckland’s ferry terminal and relax on the 25-minute trip to Rangitoto Island where you’ll meet your 4WD tram (pulled by a tractor). Hop aboard for a guided tour of the volcanic island with a knowledgeable guide who provides commentary on the island's geology, plant life and human history.
You'll journey across rugged lava fields as your guide explains the origins of the island, formed about 700 years ago after a series of volcanic eruptions. About 200 species of moss, plants and trees, including the largest Pohutukawa forest in the world, now thrive on the island.
The 4WD tram takes you to the base of the summit where you’ll walk a half mile (900m) along a wooden boardwalk to reach the top. Be sure to bring your camera for fantastic panoramic shots of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf. You might also spot birds native to New Zealand, such as the saddleback, tui and fantail.
Once you have soaked in the scenery from Rangitoto’s summit, you’ll rejoin the tour vehicle for the return trip via the western side of the island. Pass some of the preserved bachs–modest beach homes that were built in the 1920s. Bach settlements have almost disappeared in New Zealand, making Rangitoto's a rare example of this piece of architectural history. You may also see remnants of obsolete ships that, in the old days, were left to rot on the island’s hidden shores.
Be sure to bring enough snacks, water and sunscreen for the day as there are no stores on the island. A moderate level of fitness is needed for the walk to the top of the summit; people who do not want to do the walk can enjoy the views from the base.