Where is Rangitoto Island?
Rangitoto Island is a volcanic island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand. It is an iconic landmark of Auckland as its distinctive symmetrical 260 metre (850 feet) high shield volcano cone is visible from much of the city. It is the most recent and the largest (2311 hectares) of the approximately 48 volcanoes of the Auckland Volcanic Field.
Click on the map of New Zealand to take you a closer view of the Hauraki Gulf.
Rangitoto is Māori for 'Bloody Sky', with the name coming from the full phrase Nga Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua ('The days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua'). Tama-te-kapua was the captain of the Arawa waka and was badly wounded on the island, at a (lost) battle with the Tainui iwi at Islington Bay.
Rangitoto was formed by a series of eruptions between 600-700 years ago. Scientists are in dispute about the length of the eruptions, which are thought to have lasted (with interruptions) for 10 to 200 years. In any case, the amount of mass that erupted from the volcano was about equal to the combined mass of all other eruptions in the Auckland Volcanic Field before.
The volcano is not expected to become active again, although future eruptions are likely (spoken in geological timespans) elsewhere in the wider area of the field. Subsidising matter during the cooling process has left a moat-like ring around the crater summit, which may be viewed from a path which goes right round the rim and up to the highest point.
The island is considered especially significant because all stages from raw lava fields to scrub establishment and sparse forests are visible. In some parts of the island, fields of lightweight, clinker-like black lava stones are still exposed, appearing very recent to a casual eye. Visitors walk through the lava fields and may also walk through some of about seven known lava caves - tubes left behind after the passage of liquid lava. The more accessible of the caves are signposted.
Just for Fun: If you were to dig straight down from the cone of Rangitoto Island through the centre of the Earth you would end up in the south of Spain near Arriate. See below images or go here to see where you would end up if you dug down from your backyard - loads of fun.