Auckland is a nice destination not only for the fact that it has a pleasant subtropical climate and friendly people living in it, but also because those who are interested in geography and geology can have some wonderful explorations all around the city.
Volcanoes in Auckland – Facts
The Auckland Volcanic Field serves as the “foundation” for much of the city, in fact a very shaky foundation if it became active again. It is simply unpredictable when and where volcanoes in Auckland will start emerging.
It is expected that the present volcanoes will not spit ash anymore, but new ones in new locations would be formed sometime during the coming thousands of years.
Before you get too worried about safety issues, seismic activity in Auckland (and all over New Zealand) is monitored 24/7. Any minor tremors before an eruption will very likely be detected early enough to give residents and tourists a couple of hours or even days to be able to get away from the hazardous area.
In addition, a complete contingency plan is at hand with the Auckland Regional Council to make sure that any such situation would be under control as much as possible.
During your discovery tour of the volcanoes in Auckland, it is definitely worth visiting the Volcanoes Gallery of the Auckland War Memorial Museum (built on a crater as well!) where you can get a glimpse of how volcanoes work, what disasters they have caused, or how they have influenced nature and human life.
Some interesting facts about the volcanoes in Auckland:
- The Auckland Volcanic Field covers 360 sq km (140 sq mi) where the first eruptions are estimated to have started 250,000 years ago.
- There are some 50 volcanoes within a circle of 20 km (12.5 mi) around the city centre.
- Rangitoto Island is the youngest of the Auckland volcanoes and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area. It was formed only about 550-600 years ago due to a wild eruption, however, recent studies show that major activity probably started as early as 1500 years ago.
- Some of the lakes were formed in the craters, such as Lake Pupuke, the oldest eruption site, in the northeastern part of the city.
- Mt Eden (Maungawhau) is the highest volcanic cone in the city of Auckland, 196 m (643 ft).
- One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie) is the 2nd highest, but the largest in volume in the city, 183 m (597 ft). Once huge gardens of kumara (sweet potato) occupying approx. 1000 hectares in total were cultivated here by the Maori.
- Some other volcanic hills in Auckland include: Mount Albert, Mount Hobson, Mount St John, Mount Mangere, North Head, Mount Roskill, and Mount Wellington.
- All of the volcanoes erupted only for a given period of weeks or even years, except Rangitoto Island, which has erupted several times over the centuries.
Volcanoes in Auckland – InspirationFrom the many volcanic cones you can have nice views of the city and it is well worth climbing some of them during the “magic hours” (especially if you want to take remarkable photos), which means at the time of sunrise or sunset when warm and cold tones appear at the same time in an amazing variety based on humidity, clouds, time of year, etc.
The main image at the top was shot on Mt Eden in one of the first mornings after arriving in New Zealand. As an effect of the jet lag I woke at around 4 am in the hostel just at the foot of the hill and as the first lights of dawn appeared, I walked around and tried to find spots for the best possible shots.
I used a graduated neutral density filter to balance the brightness differences between the sky and the land.
It means that this way details in the foreground (the crater) could be captured while the fantastic colours of the sky did not become too bright or shallow.
After I had been finished with my shots I happily joined my wife and friends for breakfast and returned to Mt Eden with them. But the lights were not at all so magic as they had been at sunrise.
Even if you don’t have serious photographic aspirations, I do encourage you to go up one of these hills either early in the morning or late in the afternoon and just look around you.
Watch as the lights and colours are changing minute by minute. I know most of the time it’s not that “schedule friendly”, but I guarantee you if you try it even once, you’ll remember it for a long time, if not for a lifetime.
I do remember this particular morning even today, after a good number of years, and it still evokes dear memories of beauty, stillness, freedom, discovery, and watchfulness.
Text and photographs © Daniel Kerek
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