- Hauraki Gulf Marine Park
- Camping at Home Bay
- By ferry from downtown Auckland or Devonport
When one is Auckland-based and has children, being a weekend wilderness warrior can sometimes be difficult. Fortunately Auckland has a surprising number of wild gems hiding in plain sight.Disembark at Rangitoto Wharf and join the pilgrimage up the Summit Track, veering off towards the lava caves about 20 minutes shy of the summit.
From the caves, sidle around the Loop Track to the Summit Road. Head down the dusty scoria road to Islington Bay. From Islington Bay Wharf follow the gorgeous little coastal path that winds around the foreshore to the causeway that joins Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands. Here there's a lovely little beach sheltered by a small grove of mangroves.
Across the causeway, turn onto the poled Rotary Track that meanders over pasture from Islington Bay to Home Bay. Once on the ridge, you're treated to breathtaking views over the sparkling waters of the Hauraki Gulf from the city to Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel. After almost two hours, you drop into the shelter of Home Bay, where there's a campsite.
There's also the historic 1901 Reid Homestead tucked into the corner of the bay. Return to the causeway via the Rotary Track again, then head back to the main Rangitoto Wharf via the Coastal Track. Despite the lava rocks making it sufficiently bumpy underfoot to warrant boots with ankle support, this leafy and seldom-used track is a real treat. Near the wharf the track runs past what is apparently the largest black back gull colony in New Zealand.