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Going guided: Sunset tour to Rangitoto

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June 2020 Issue

Most people visit Rangitoto during the day, but a sunset tour by sea kayak is one of Auckland’s best adventures.

A trip to Rangitoto is on the must-do list of every visitor to Auckland, but while most people visit the island by ferry, a sea kayak trip that coincides with watching the sunset from the summit turns a popular and easy day trip into an adventurous multi-sport activity right in the heart of New Zealand’s biggest city.

Auckland Sea Kayaks operates the trip from St Heliers Bay and owner Nic Meads says Rangitoto has a lot to offer. It’s the largest pohutukawa forest in the country, it’s a haven for kākā and other native birds which fly in from surrounding pest-free islands, and the summit views of the Hauraki Gulf are unrivalled.

“It’s pretty unique in the sense that you leave Auckland in daylight, hike up to the summit and get those glorious views of the Hauraki Gulf and then paddle back across the Waitemata Harbour in the dark with all the stars shining around,” he says.

The trip lasts around six hours, including 75-minutes of kayaking each way, and includes a barbecue dinner at Rangitoto Wharf. 

Meads says the trip is popular with Kiwis, who comprise 60 per cent of his clientele.

Aucklander Kate Marshall so loves the trip, she organises Meet Up groups to do it with.  

“Rangitoto is this jewel in the heart of Auckland,” she says. “It’s a chance to go over and explore it in a much more interesting way than just taking the ferry.”

For Meads, the highlight is the return journey, kayaking in the dark. “On one side you’ve got the Ports of Auckland, the Sky Tower, the Harbour Bridge all lit up, and then you gaze to the east and you’ve got Motuihe, Motokorea and Motutapu islands in the dark. There’s an awesome contrast between the two.”

Where Depart St Heliers Beach
Who Auckland Sea Kayaks, www.aucklandseakayaks.co.nz
When All year
Duration 6-7hr
Price $195

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