Twenty minutes on a fast ferry, and you arrive at Rangitoto - the youngest of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf. It's easy to forget that Auckland is actually built on a field of volcanoes. Rangitoto last erupted 600 years ago...the climb to the summit takes about an hour and takes you through hot dusty lava fields and up rocky paths that never seem to end. "I'm HUNGRY," moans L, "I don't have any ENERGY." I feed him hardboiled eggs and ignore his grumbling. On the final stretch to the summit, my legs are jellified. There are lots of tourists, including some very pale ones who look faint from the climb and the heat.
My favourite part of Rangitoto is the baches. They were built in the 20s and 30s, and there was once a thriving bach community, with swimming pools and halls and tennis courts. My friend Julie remembers visiting Rangitoto as a child and seeing the local kids ride their horses to school on neighbouring island Motutapu. But in the 50s, the government stopped the renewal of leases, people moved on, and the bach settlements died. I'm a sucker for all things nostalgic, especially other people's memories of a past that didn't include malls and McDonalds, so I was happy to discover that the baches are being restored. A nice lady invited us to come back for tea and gingernuts after our dusty trek, on our way back to the ferry.