Ragged roam on Rangitoto

Six hundred years ago beside a verdant island in the bays out from where Auckland is today, a submarine volcano exploded and spewed red-hot lava up and out for several years. The result was a low round volcano of black air-pocketed lava. And it looms large in the traditional oral history of the Maori.


The vegetation that has grown into low impenetrable forests is impressive. Grottos and pits abound and every rock save for the tidal zone smoothening actions, is rough in some ways like pyroclastic material. The day before we were due to rendezvous with the other tall ships for the parade sail into Auckland Harbour, we tacked back and forth around the southern edge of Waiheke Island and came upon the low skyline of Rangitoto and therein sheltered in her Islington Bay. Some of us went for a walk ashore. Having inadvertently lost the forward land party I ventured alone along the shore and into the islands interior.


So abrasive are these lava flows that standing on surfaces greater than 45 degrees slope was a breeze. The flow above reminded me of a phosphorescent land slug.

I noticed a white / light blue green lichen growing in deep lush mats around and across the rough hewn lava. It was located in similar niches and was serving the very same purpose that I’d seen it Iceland last year. Rangitoto served as a reminder of the precarious of all life in New Zealand – the plutonic demons ready to wreak havoc as they see fit.

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