The original plan for the day was to head down to Rotorua with a few friends from the hostel to soak in some hot springs. They woke up hungover and no one made plans to rent a car, so that idea ended quickly.
I had heard that the volcanic island of Rangitoto was an interesting place to spend a day, and google told me the ferry left in 15 minutes.
I jogged toward the pier (not easy in a backpack), and ended up getting there with almost a minute to spare. The woman was telling everyone to wipe their shoes before getting on the ferry. New Zealand is very strict about foreign contaminants, especially in the places that don’t see many visitors.
On the hike up, I chatted quite a few different people. I met a Korean guy who was making a YouTube series about New Zealand travel. I met a few Kiwis who were happy to tell me the good places to visit. I met a Scottish woman and her Sri Lankan husband whom I chatted with for a few hours.
They invited me to their place when I make it out there, and I took down their information.
The summit offered a nice view, but my favorite part of the trip were exploring the lava caves.
Visitors are able to climb through a few of these caves. There is a group of three, and the middle one gets narrow, then expands. The exit is a few hundred feet past the entrance.
The last cave was a little further down, and many people turned back before reaching it. I went to the fourth cave and was surprised to hear a woman playing a Shakuhachi (she later told me). She was playing a beautiful song alone in the dark. The acoustics of the cave were unparalleled, and the woman had quite a bit of talent. I took a seat on a nearby rock and enjoyed the performance. I introduced myself afterwards while trying not to scare her in a pitch black cave. She told me her dream was to one day study at Naropa University in Colorado. “Strange,” I said. “I live just down the street from there.” It was like a Joni Mitchell song.
There was a lighthouse located on a small island off the coast of this small island off the coast of Auckland. There was no discernible way to reach it, unfortunately, so I had to make do just looking at it.
There was also a nice beach with dark sand. I didn’t have much time to stay, as the last ferry left at 3:30pm. If you missed it, you were out of luck.
For more information about the island, check out the Department of Conservation’s website here.