Rangitoto Island, in the middle of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, is popular with hikers: the easy summit track offers stunning views of the Auckland landscape, and it’s a short walk from the summit to Rangitoto’s striking lava caves. For snorkelers, on the northern side of the island is Wreck Bay, a ship graveyard with wrecks dating back to 1887. Rangitoto is connected to nearby Motutapu Island by causeway, and both islands are home to a wide range of native plants and animals. Rangitoto’s summit track cuts through the world’s largest pohutukawa forest, and birds such as saddleback and kaka live around the summit and in the forest.
You can explore Rangitoto with a guided half-day 4WD or kayaking tour from Auckland. Alternatively, experienced paddlers can kayak to Rangitoto from Auckland; there are rental companies around the city. For easy summit access, ride a “road train” (tram pulled by a tractor) to the top of the island.