This city is built on a volcanic field containing just over 50 volcanoes: some dormant, some extinct. So far we've climbed four of them. Before you get all impressed, they're small volcanoes. The tallest one (Rangitoto) is only 260 meters high. Small potatoes.
If like me, this led you to wonder what a really big volcano looks like, here you go:
Props to Hawaii!
Back to something smaller...
On Tuesday we started a short tramp across these islands. We came late in the day, so we reached Rangitoto's summit right as the last ferry back to civilization was leaving the wharf. It's quite a feeling, to know you're alone on a volcano.
On our way back down, we were struck by a relentless earworm for the lava song from the latest Pixar short. Let's hope we weren't tempting fate by singing it so much, because when we finally headed back to Auckland one of the locals from Motutapu told us he noticed some unusual bubbles forming by the dock. DUN DUNDUNN!
There's no place to camp on Rangitoto itself, so you have to walk for a good 4+ hours to get to the campsite on the other island. The islands connect over a short bridge, but really, if there wasn't a bridge would that stop you? Judge for yourself:
We should have arrived at the campsite on the other side just before dark, but after mile or two the tramping trail fizzled out into the tall grass and we couldn't find where it led. At one point, the grass caught my boot and the weight of my pack sent me falling over like humpty dumpty. Eventually the sun set and we decided to backtrack towards the road. The temperature dropped and I had to tie my scarf around my head like a turban to keep the high winds from blowing hair into my eyes and obstructing what little I could see. We had to stop a few times because the packs were wrenching our shoulders, and I was tempted more than once to drop my bag and sleep on the side of the road. In the end we overshot the campground a little bit. We realized we'd gone too far when the road starting turning back into the mountains, knowing the only legal campground was on the shore. We hobbled back and blindly picked a spot on the grass, exhilarated by the thought of a bed for the night. Or more accurately, a tiny inflatable sleeping pad.
In the morning though, everything was beautiful.