Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands

MODERATE 7 reviews

Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands is a 21.4 kilometer lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Auckland, Auckland Region, New Zealand that offers scenic views. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and backpacking.

21.4 km
398 m
Out & Back



trail running




Motutapu Island is about 8.3 miles long and located near Narrow Neck, New Zealand. The trail is great for hiking and normally takes a half day. This is a nice hike from Rangitoto Ferry Wharf to the Motutapu trig (for ship navigation) on a 121 meter hill. The track starts and ends at the ferry wharf and is about 5 hours long. This is an easy trail if you go inland on the road and avoid the coastal trail which is over rough lava and has limited ocean views anyway. Plus, it takes an hour longer than the inland track and ends up at the same place. Since 90 percent of the people who take the ferry do so to hike to the top of Rangitoto and go no further, the track to Motutapu is not crowded except for some occasional backpackers going to Home Bay, which has a campsite, and a few four-wheel drive conservation trucks. The ferry cost is $27 round trip and takes 20 minutes. You can save $7 by booking on-line or $11 by taking the 7:30 AM ferry from Auckland harbor on weekends or holidays. The ferry comes back at 3:00 PM during the week or 4:00 PM weekends and holidays (last trip). For the lazy (or the smart!) there's a narrated tractor ride that goes around the volcano and stops near the top that costs $59 including the price of the ferry ride. Great bargain for those with young kids or the older crowd as the Rangitoto summit route is steep and straight up, with little or no switchbacks. After a leisurely two-hour walk on the inland road, made a lunch stop at Islington Wharf (where both tracks go) which is very scenic and has public restrooms. Even a slow 2.2 mph pace was enough to beat the vigorous backpackers who started at the same time and took the longer and rougher coastal route. It takes another hour to get across the grassy, hilly, and pleasant lower part of Motutapu (even stopping to chat for a few minutes with a passing farmer) to the trig for nice views of Home Bay. Motutapu is much prettier than Rangitoto so it was well worth the 5 hour total round trip. There are gates to walk through and close behind you on Motutapu to keep in the very sociable cows. Don't be surprised if they walk over to say hi. In New Zealand even the cows are friendly!

10 months ago

Visited from the US, really nice walk around the island. I took the 9:45am ferry which is 30$ NZD for round trip. I recommend making a day out of it and catching a morning ride out to the island, the last departure from Motatupu back to Auckland is 4pm I believe and they won't wait for you :)

I started with the summit hike and was going at a fairly good pace. I'm in fairly good shape so I made it in about 35 minutes. Views are ok, you get a nice 360 view of the island and can see the Auckland skyline from the top. If you want to continue exploring, the lava caves are about a 20 minute walk with some back tracking down the summit trail. Look for signs and trail markers, you'll miss them if you aren't paying attention.

From there, you could back track to the main summit trail and walk the roadway down to Yankee Wharf and connect to the Coastal Track (map: https://www.topomap.co.nz/NZTopoMap/nz6303/Yankee-Wharf/Auckland). PROTECT your ankles and wear hiking footwear! The Yankee Wharf spot is a nice place to have lunch and view the serene waters. With a few breaks along the way, I made it back to Rangitoto Wharf by 3:30pm. Good way to spend a day outside of Auckland and be back in time for dinner.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hi. Nice write up. The name of the island is Motutapu. In Maori, "Motu" means "island", and "tapu" means "sacred", hence "Motutapu" = "Sacred Island". Cheers, Brent.

3 months ago

3 months ago

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

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Thursday, June 01, 2017